Sen. Gopal Introduces "Marissa's Law"

Senator Vin Gopal introduced “Marissa’s Law” Monday, Oct. 15 in an effort to make New Jersey’s roads safer and hold negligent drivers accountable.

The bill (S3127) provides for a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death or serious bodily injury, except if the operator reports the accident. The bill also increases the mandatory minimum term for reckless vehicular homicide.

“When a driver leaves the scene of an accident, that act of extreme negligence is not only irresponsible but it could be the difference between life and death for the other individual or individuals involved in the crash,” said Senator Vin Gopal. “The tragic loss of Marissa Procopio shows just how severe the consequences are when a driver leaves the scene of an accident. We have an obligation to prevent these types of tragedies from occurring in the future. No one should have to receive that call.”

“We must hold drivers accountable, particularly when they are involved in an accident that claims someone’s life or leaves them severely injured. By establishing this minimum term of imprisonment, we are creating a deterrent for fleeing the scene of an accident and punishing those who do commit this crime,” said Senator Gopal.

The bill is named for Marissa Procopio, an Atlantic Highlands resident who was fatally struck by a car on July 7, 2015.  The driver of the car fled the scene of the crime but was later apprehended, charged and was sentenced after entering a plea agreement.

Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey introduced an identical bill in the Assembly on Sept. 24, 2018.