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Beau Fishinger cops a plea.

This topic contains 22 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Marko82 7 mos, 1 week.

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Mick

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Sep 5 2013 at 9:51pm #

http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/4654272-74/fishinger-accident-yablonsky#axzz2e4fdnvbg

Lincoln Place man pleads guilty to critically injuring bicyclist in hit-and-run in Lawrenceville


Beau Fishinger, 31, of Lincoln Place agreed to a plea deal that calls for Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski to sentence him next week to 12 to 24 months in prison. His sentence will run consecutive to the 2½- to five-year sentence that a judge imposed in January for violating the terms of his probation on previous charges.

I’m glad the terms are consecutive, not concurrent. I’m pretty satisfied with the sentence with one excepotion: they make no mention of a lifetime ban from driving.

That is a public safety requirement here. This man should never be permitted to drive.

If it were me, his probation conditions would ban him for life from any motorized tranportation. Ever.

No car rides. No buses. No trains. No planes. No escalators. No elevators. No motorized wheelchairs. Nada.

Possible exception of an ambulance – only because of the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause of the constitution.

This coming from me: I’m a softy. Most crimes – even serious ones- I’m like”just give them a few months in jail to think about it.”

I’m infuriated by the idea the hit-and-run penalties are lower than the penalties for drunken accidents. There was a bill to change that, but I understand that’s been killed (metaphor deliberate. Deaths will result.)

I found out that the penalty for driving with a suspended or revoked license is only a $200 fine.

WTF???? That’s what you give someone for bad parking. Not deadly threats to the community.

Seems like all these serious drunk hit-and-run bash the cyclist crimes are done by suspended-license creeps.

The penalties should be harsh enough to eliminate that behavior.

$200? That’s less than paying a jitney driver for tranportation. People feel they can’t afford to NOT violate the law.

That should change.

I’m thinking in terms of “felony,” “jail time,” “lifetime ban from driving,” “no-bail crime: imminent threat to the community,” and “3 strikes law.” The punishment should fit the crime.

The particular crime of driving with a suspended or revoked license could be virtually eliminated with appropriate punishment.

  • This topic was modified 7 mos, 1 week ago by  erok.

jonawebb

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Sep 6 2013 at 7:42am #

OK, first of all, his license was suspended when he hit Dan. So, as a matter of fact, you don’t really need a license to drive here in PA. All you need is a car. The chances of your getting caught driving without a license are minimal because we don’t enforce the law, since that would require inconveniencing drivers by stopping them to check.
Second, the ban from motorized transportation is silly. Maybe he should also be required to wear a bell around his neck, like medieval lepers.


JaySherman5000

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Sep 6 2013 at 8:18am #

jonawebb wrote:Maybe he should also be required to wear a bell around his neck, like medieval lepers.

I am totally okay with this, and I wholeheartedly support your idea.


StuInMcCandless

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Sep 6 2013 at 8:19am #

It would be more effective to have a penalty for a suspended license violation tied to impoundment of the vehicle, regardless of ownership. If it’s his own car, fine, but if someone lets a violator drive a car — and they usually know darn well a license is suspended — the owner will be a little less likely to let him get at the car in the first place.

Graduate the penalties, too. First violation, 10 days. Second, 30 days. Third, 90 days. It starts to get expensive to rent or buy another car because your stupid family member or roommate got the first car impounded.


jonawebb

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Sep 6 2013 at 8:38am #

@Stu, given that the chance of getting caught with a suspended license is minimal, I don’t think this would be much of a deterrent. I really can’t see any way to get unlicensed drivers off the road without enforcing the law.


Drewbacca

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Sep 6 2013 at 9:08am #

I don’t even think we’d need to inconvenience drivers… we just need to set aside a few dollars to pay someone to check up on those who have lost their license. I don’t think these guys are borrowing cars to go out and continue their dangerous habit; I doubt they are even hiding their behavior. Likely, they carry on as usual with a car in the driveway and friends/neighbors don’t even realize they are driving illegally.

I wonder what the privacy implications of such a follow up would be?


Marko82

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Sep 6 2013 at 9:23am #

This has been suggested before – if you are caught driving on a suspended license they should impound the car for thirty days.

You are driving someone else’s car? Too bad, they should have made sure you were licensed before they loaned it to you. Your spouse needs the car so they can get to work? Too bad, they should have thought of that before they let their husband/wife drive the car.

BTW, I think this would work well for DUI too.


StuInMcCandless

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Sep 6 2013 at 9:55am #

How different is this, really, from a parent taking a toy from a toddler who’s mishandling a toy? Learn how to play nice, and you can have your toy back.


Mick

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Sep 6 2013 at 10:37am #

@ jonawebb
OK, first of all, his license was suspended when he hit Dan. So, as a matter of fact, you don’t really need a license to drive here in PA. All you need is a car. The chances of your getting caught driving without a license are minimal because we don’t enforce the law, since that would require inconveniencing drivers by stopping them to check.
Second, the ban from motorized transportation is silly. Maybe he should also be required to wear a bell around his neck, like medieval lepers.

Yes, the chances of getting caught are minimal – there are various ways to change that, but right now that is true.

The consequences of getting caught are also minimal A $200 fine? I got a $185 fine for swimming in a non-swimming area of a state park.

If it were more severe, it might deter, even if the chances of being caught are small

A car can get forfeited -civilly, without “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” – for the suspicion (not conviction, suspicion) of being used in drug trafficking. The car owner has to sue to get the car back.

Now iwould taking the car be severe enough to deter driving with a suspended/revoked license? I doubt it.

Solution? Make the penalties more severe than that.

I don’t see any reason why it should not be a felony. I mean – in Pittsburgh, (if I’m not mistaken, which I might be) most (2/3?)of the hit-and-run deaths for bicyclists have been drivers with a suspended license.

There is no reason to treat this as a minor traffic violation, roughly akin to going swimming illegally.

There is a reason to treat it is a felony. Deaths. Many deaths.

Penalties should be high enough to make it so the crime would be very rare -even with the extremely low chance of getting caught.

Right now, most perps can afford the possibility of a $200 fiune more than they could afford the time, effort, and expense to find an alternative to driving with a suspended license.

The rational decision is for them to risk the $200 and drive.

This is unacceptable.

***
Now, I’m aware that the “ban from all motorized traffic” is whimsical.

It would be appropriate, though. In the long run, it would likely improve Fisher’s life, even.

OTOH, I’d be OK with him having to wear a bell like a leper, too.

Totally OK.

Realistically? Banning Fisher from driving for life (or at least several decades) with probation conditions stipulating serious jail time if he violates that is plausible and desirable.

Letting him drive – EVER – without at least one of those beathalizer locks on the car would be a failure of the system.


Mick

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Sep 6 2013 at 10:55am #

Procedural question

Real question. I dont’ know the answer – and it might vary from one policeman to another or between different departments.

When they bust someone for driving with a suspended/revoked license and they give them a ticket for the laughable $200 fine – do they let them drive away?


jonawebb

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Sep 6 2013 at 11:09am #

In CA they do impound the car, and my sister says they don’t do the checkpoints anymore to check for driving without a license / DUI, so it’s like PA in that sense. There might be data out there that will help understand if impounding the car helps. But in my opinion, probably not. If you’re driving without a license you’re probably not worrying too much about whoever you “borrowed” the car from losing the use of it for a while. And the person you took the car from may well not be in a position to refuse you the use of the car, if you bother to ask.


andyc

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Sep 6 2013 at 11:32am #

I’ve had my license suspended before just by running afoul of bureaucracy and I didn’t even know there was a problem until I went to renew my registration. (Was out of the country for a while.)

So you need to compound the second offense not with the fact that the license is suspended but with whatever the offense was the caused the license to be suspended.


Mick

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Sep 6 2013 at 11:35am #

Usually the suspended/revoked license driver is driving their own car.

Some of them would be seriously hosed if their spouse and other family members were also denied use of the car.

A reasonable, legal coping mechanism for a suspended driver would be to say something like “Joe, if you drive me to work and shopping once a week, you can use my car until I get my license back.”

Impound the car and options are more limited.

And in any case, “$200 fine and 30-day impounded car” beats the hell out of “Pitifully small $200 fine and you get to drive home.”


StuInMcCandless

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Sep 6 2013 at 12:03pm #

I did say impound, not forfeit or confiscate. Perhaps impound *or* jail time, at the discretion of a magistrate or higher, if there would be family hardship if the car is impounded.

Again using the analogy of an unruly toddler, “You can either sit in the corner for 20 minutes or go a day without the toy.”


Marko82

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Sep 6 2013 at 2:04pm #

§ 1543. Driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked.
(a) Offense defined.–Except as provided in subsection (b), any person who drives a motor vehicle on any highway or trafficway of this Commonwealth after the commencement of a suspension, revocation or cancellation of the operating privilege and before the operating privilege has been restored is guilty of a summary offense and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of $200.

PDF http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/pdotforms/vehicle_code/chapter15.pdf

******
There are subsections that refer to increasing the fine and/or the suspension period under certain situations, but as far as I can tell, never jail time for just driving.


Mick

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Sep 6 2013 at 3:44pm #

IO dunno. Maybe I thinking about it wrong. A $200 fine might be appropriate if someone indeed can get a suspend license jsut for beuerocratic stuff. (I’m not sure how. Expired? Yeah, but suspended?)

On the other hand, suspended licenses usually go along with probation, don’t they? You can go to jail for violating that. I’m pretty sure a judge could stipulate that. Do they, though?

I think getting these guys off the road is an an important safety issue. I can get vindictive towrds driver (see “leper bell,” above.), but just as a safety consideration, they should keep suspended license drivers off the road.


Ahlir

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Sep 6 2013 at 6:07pm #

Some years ago I was told the following two things:

1) about 80% of drivers with suspended licenses will drive a car during the suspension period. It’s typically because they need to drive to work. Presumably most (though obviously not all) try harder to not screw up.

2) Some number of people with suspended licenses will start using a bicycle to get around. (I understood it was a joke among cops.) Then again, maybe some of them turn into converts and become lesser menaces.

I have no idea if this is true and I don’t remember who it was that told me (though I’m pretty sure it was someone with a connection to the system). But it’s not possibilities I would have thought of. Anyway, these things always turn out to be complicated.


HiddenVariable

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Sep 7 2013 at 10:51am #

Mick wrote:IO dunno. Maybe I thinking about it wrong. A $200 fine might be appropriate if someone indeed can get a suspend license jsut for beuerocratic stuff. (I’m not sure how. Expired? Yeah, but suspended?)

On the other hand, suspended licenses usually go along with probation, don’t they? You can go to jail for violating that. I’m pretty sure a judge could stipulate that. Do they, though?

i had my license suspended for failure to pay a fine. i, of course, actually did pay the fine; they just never got it or never cashed the check. i also had no idea my license was suspended until some other bureaucratic hoop (renewing my insurance, perhaps? it was a while ago), ostensibly because they had the wrong address for me (despite it being correct on my license?).

now, i’m still ok with the idea impounding the car for 30 days if an individual is caught with a suspended license, especially if the violation that caused them to get caught is particularly egregious. but i think a felony would be a bit much.


StuInMcCandless

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Sep 7 2013 at 9:51pm #

I wouldn’t go the felony route, just the impoundment.

Driving under a suspension? Isn’t that just a symptom of the problem I’ve been going on about for 15 years, that it just isn’t possible to cold-turkey NOT use a car, even if you had to? It’s taken me over 20 years to go from four cars to hardly ever driving.


salty

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Sep 12 2013 at 8:16am #

We’re not the only ones not happy with this joke of a sentence: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/driver-sentenced-for-striking-bicyclist-in-lawrenceville-703005/


RustyRed

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Sep 12 2013 at 8:37am #

salty wrote:We’re not the only ones not happy with this joke of a sentence: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/driver-sentenced-for-striking-bicyclist-in-lawrenceville-703005/

That Spiegler guy is awesome, I could just kiss ‘im.


Mick

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Sep 12 2013 at 12:12pm #

The 1 to 2 year sentence is light. But IIRC correctly the 2 1/2 to 5 year sentence Fishinger is also servering was suspended and now is not. That’s some time for him to think about things.


Marko82

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Sep 12 2013 at 12:53pm #

Mick wrote:That’s some time for him to think about things.

I hope so, but I’m skeptical. My neighbor’s friend has had three DUIs. The last time he was under house arrest for a year, then two years with an interlock on the steering wheel. As soon as the interlock was removed he started bar-hopping (and driving) again. I have offered him a spot on my couch after drinking at our backyard parties; tried getting his keys both before and after drinking; he just refuses to admit his problem, or allow us to mitigate. He has assured us that he will sleep on my neighbors couch, only to leave the house in the middle of the night.

I once called the police on a girlfriend (whom I loved very much) who refused to not get behind the wheel – and I’ll do it again for this guy if the situation arises. Some people just can’t be reached and I’d rather have them in trouble/jail rather than dead or injuring/killing others.

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