State v. Sidway, No. 64-79

Docket NºNo. 64-79
Citation431 A.2d 1237, 139 Vt. 480
Case DateApril 14, 1981
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Vermont

Page 1237

431 A.2d 1237
139 Vt. 480
STATE of Vermont
v.
Sandra SIDWAY.
No. 64-79.
Supreme Court of Vermont.
April 14, 1981.
Motion for Reargument Denied April 28, 1981.

[139 Vt. 482] M. Jerome Diamond, Atty. Gen., and Susan R. Harritt, Asst. Atty. Gen., Montpelier, for plaintiff.

Page 1238

James L. Morse, Defender General, William A. Nelson, Appellate Defender, and Jacqueline Majoros, Law Clerk on the brief, Montpelier, for defendant.

Before [139 Vt. 480] BARNEY, C. J., BILLINGS, HILL and UNDERWOOD, JJ., and DALEY, J. (Ret.), Specially Assigned.

[139 Vt. 482] UNDERWOOD, Justice.

This is an appeal from the verdict of the jury and a judgment and sentence of the District Court of Vermont, Lamoille Circuit, Unit No. 3, convicting the defendant of the crime of leaving the scene of an accident. 23 V.S.A. § 1128. The sentence of 0-6 months was suspended, she was fined $200, and granted probation. The sentence was stayed pending appeal.

The defendant, who had no valid operator's license, was driving her mother's car home from a bistro in Stow, over a highway known as the River Road, at about 11:00 P.M. on January 15, 1978, when she lost control of her car. The weather was fair and the dirt road surface was dry and hard. Her car left the travelled portion of the highway and proceeded approximately 200 feet through a field of uncut vegetation some three to four feet high, crossed a portion of a driveway and struck an unoccupied parked car. It then crossed a lawn and returned to the highway.

The unoccupied car was parked in the driveway about 80 feet from the River Road and 40 feet from the home of its owner. The force of the impact moved it approximately ten feet. The damage to that car was to the right rear fender and bumper, a tail light was smashed out, and the frame was bent. Chrome trim, gravel and broken glass lay on the ground at the accident scene. There were traces of maroon paint on its green fender.

The occupants of the house, who were preparing to retire for the night and still had their lights on, heard a noise which they described as a loud crash. The children looked out and [139 Vt. 483] saw that the family car had been damaged. The father saw a car on the highway pause momentarily and then drive off.

The defendant testified that she had no knowledge at the time that she had struck or damaged anyone else's car. She did note that her car steered improperly after she returned to the highway and kept swerving to one side, but she surmised that the problem arose when she drove over some rocks in the field. When she got home, the defendant told her mother, the owner of the car, that she had wrecked it. She then went to the hospital where she remained until the following morning.

The defendant's car sustained extensive damage to its right side, and the passenger door was caved in to the extent that it could not be opened. A window was completely smashed out, and broken glass was scattered over the interior of the car. The car's maroon paint matched that found on the fender of the unoccupied car.

The next day the defendant's brother-in-law, who had made his own investigation of the incident, informed her of the accident. The defendant insists that this was the first time she became aware of the accident.

The sole issue before us, and one of first impression in this state, is whether the defendant need have had actual knowledge that she was involved in an accident causing damage, or only such knowledge as would ordinarily cause a reasonably prudent person, under like circumstances, to conclude that an impact had occurred and that damage had resulted.

23 V.S.A. § 1128 provides:

The operator of a motor vehicle who has caused or is involved in an accident resulting in injury to any person or property, other than the vehicle then under his control or its occupants, shall immediately stop and render any assistance reasonably necessary. He shall give his name, residence, license number and the name of the owner of the motor vehicle to any party whose person or property is injured and to any enforcement officer. A person who violates this section shall be fined not more than $2,000.00 or imprisoned for not more than two years, or both.

Page 1239

This is popularly known as a "hit and run" statute and is primarily directed against a callous class known as [139 Vt. 484] "hit and run"...

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32 practice notes
  • State v. Tennant, No. 15978
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 12, 1984
    ...Goss v. State, 582 S.W.2d 782 (Tex.Ct.Crim.App.1979); Herchenbach v. Commonwealth, 185 Va. 217, 38 S.E.2d 328 (1946); State v. Sidway, 139 Vt. 480, 431 A.2d 1237 (1981); State v. Martin, 73 Wash.2d 616, 440 P.2d 429 (1968), cert. denied, 393 U.S. 1081, 89 S.Ct. 855, 21 L.Ed.2d 773 (1969); A......
  • Rutz v. Essex Junction Prudential Committee, No. 82-087
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • January 27, 1983
    ...of the school." [142 Vt. 415] He contends the statute is penal in nature and consequently must be strictly construed. State v. Sidway, 139 Vt. 480, 484, 431 A.2d 1237, 1239 There are several problems with plaintiff's argument. At the outset, we held above that § 1162 is not applicable to th......
  • State v. Bourgoin, 19-319
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • March 12, 2021
    ...circumstantial—"is sufficient to raise an inference of knowledge" and "withstand a motion for a judgment of acquittal." State v. Sidway, 139 Vt. 480, 485, 431 A.2d 1237, 1240 (1981) (concluding that proof of impact was sufficient for jury to infer hit-and-run driver's knowledge of injury or......
  • State v. Deyo, No. 04-179.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • November 22, 2006
    ...of age, the lack of clear direction from the Legislature means that we should construe the statute in defendant's favor. State v. Sidway, 139 Vt. 480, 484, 431 A.2d 1237, 1239 (1981). We do not find this argument compelling. When statutory provisions unambiguously cover a defendant's conduc......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
32 cases
  • State v. Tennant, No. 15978
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 12, 1984
    ...Goss v. State, 582 S.W.2d 782 (Tex.Ct.Crim.App.1979); Herchenbach v. Commonwealth, 185 Va. 217, 38 S.E.2d 328 (1946); State v. Sidway, 139 Vt. 480, 431 A.2d 1237 (1981); State v. Martin, 73 Wash.2d 616, 440 P.2d 429 (1968), cert. denied, 393 U.S. 1081, 89 S.Ct. 855, 21 L.Ed.2d 773 (1969); A......
  • Rutz v. Essex Junction Prudential Committee, No. 82-087
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • January 27, 1983
    ...of the school." [142 Vt. 415] He contends the statute is penal in nature and consequently must be strictly construed. State v. Sidway, 139 Vt. 480, 484, 431 A.2d 1237, 1239 There are several problems with plaintiff's argument. At the outset, we held above that § 1162 is not applicable to th......
  • State v. Bourgoin, 19-319
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • March 12, 2021
    ...circumstantial—"is sufficient to raise an inference of knowledge" and "withstand a motion for a judgment of acquittal." State v. Sidway, 139 Vt. 480, 485, 431 A.2d 1237, 1240 (1981) (concluding that proof of impact was sufficient for jury to infer hit-and-run driver's knowledge of injury or......
  • State v. Deyo, No. 04-179.
    • United States
    • Vermont United States State Supreme Court of Vermont
    • November 22, 2006
    ...of age, the lack of clear direction from the Legislature means that we should construe the statute in defendant's favor. State v. Sidway, 139 Vt. 480, 484, 431 A.2d 1237, 1239 (1981). We do not find this argument compelling. When statutory provisions unambiguously cover a defendant's conduc......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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