New Jersey's 21st Legislative District

Senator Tom Kean, Jr.

Senator Tom Kean

Committee Advances Kean Bill Upgrading Penalty for Unreported Hit-and-Run Accidents When Injured Dog or Cat Dies

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The Senate Environment Committee has approved legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean that upgrades the penalty for unreported hit-and-run accidents that result in the death of certain animals, including dogs and cats.

Sen. Tom Kean’s legislation upgrading the penalty for unreported hit-and-run accidents that result in the death of certain animals, including dogs and cats, has advanced. (Pixabay)

“People deserve to know in a timely fashion when their pet is hit by a car so they have the opportunity to seek emergency care, alleviate suffering, or recover remains in a dignified manner,” said Kean (R-21). “When those sad situations happen, we want the driver to stop, check on the animal, and report the strike immediately to authorities to ensure that the owner can be located and notified. We want to be sure drivers realize that it’s illegal to hit and run, regardless of whether the victim is a person or someone’s pet.”

Under current law, a driver who knowingly hits, runs over, or causes injury to a cat, dog, horse, or cattle is required to stop, ascertain the extent of the animal’s injury, and report certain information, including their name, driver’s license number, vehicle registration number, and the location of the injured animal.

Currently, the failure of a driver to take the required steps is a petty disorderly persons offense that’s punishable by up to 30 days imprisonment, up to a $500 fine, or both.

Kean’s legislation, S-1703, upgrades the penalty to a disorderly persons offense if the person fails to stop and report the strike and the animal dies. A disorderly persons offense is punishable by up to six months imprisonment, up to a $1,000 fine, or both.

“For many people, pets are beloved members of their families,” added Kean. “They don’t want to be left wondering what happened if their dog or cat disappears and doesn’t return home. The upgraded penalties that would be imposed by this legislation will help ensure that drivers do the right thing and report vehicle strikes of pets as the law requires.”

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