Legal Reference

Arizona's draconian laws encourage hit and run accidents

One of the problems with Arizona's draconian laws is that they encourage people to have hit and run accidents. That is because the penalty of running from an accident is much less then doing the right thing and helping the accident victim.

For people who don't have a drivers license it is an automatic felony if you are in an accident and someone is injured. So from a cost benifit view it makes sense for a person to run if they are involved in an accident and don't have a drivers license.

Stay at the accident and you will be charged with a felony. Run and you might or might not get caught.

The other law that encourages hit and run accidents is the no car insuranse law. If the cops stop you and you don't have auto insuranse they seize your car. If your in an accident it makes sense from a cost benifit view to leave the accident so the cops don't steal your car.

Stay at the accident and the cops will seize your car.

Run from the accident and you might get to keep your car.

And according to this article if you are in a hit and run accident it is pretty hard for the cops to arrest and charge you with the accident if nobody sees you get out of your car.


July 22, 2008 - 6:48PM

Gilbert police canít arrest hit-and-run suspect

David Biscobing, Tribune

Thomas Grade is tough to pin down.

The 57-year-old Gilbert man suspected in a hit-and-run crash last month that spurred a wild chase through Mesa and Gilbert and ran a police car into a wall, who then barricaded himself in his home, still hasn't been arrested.

And it appears he could avoid any charges.

Gilbert suspect in police chase not arrested

Police surround Gilbert home after car chase

It's a difficult situation, Gilbert police say, because after officers lost sight of his Mercedes sport utility vehicle, there were no witnesses to confirm if Grade was the driver, even though the SUV was found in his driveway and he refused to answer officers at his door for several hours.

"If we would have seen someone run into the house, we may have been able to go in after them," Gilbert police Sgt. Mark Marino said. "But because of the time lapse, that isn't the case."

But the frustration isn't limited to investigators. Residents of the neighborhood near Lindsay Road and Houston Avenue are concerned because Grade, a former doctor, has a complicated past filled with lawsuits, substance abuse, an arrest on suspicion of domestic violence and bizarre behavior.

"He's a threat," said Kim Kemper, who lives down the street. "We have young children around, and who knows what will happen next."

Several calls to Grade's home weren't answered, and his phone's message box was full.

On June 13, the SUV found parked in Grade's driveway smashed into a car on U.S. 60 and sped away. The driver was going faster than 100 mph and ran a police car off the road and into a block wall, records show.

The driver also ran over traffic signs and nearly hit a child, police said.

After the police car was run off the road, no units were within sight of the SUV. By the time the vehicle was found parked in Grade's driveway, no one was in the car.

Police say they need evidence or witnesses to prove Grade was the driver.

It's been more than a month since the incident and three weeks since any activity in the case, according to available records.

The investigation is still active and a high priority, officials say. But police reports released to the Tribune shed little light on what's happening to close the case.

"We just don't have the circumstantial evidence that we need for an arrest," Marino said.

After the chase, more than a dozen officers staked out Grade's home for several hours, and many commanding officers came to the scene, including police Chief Tim Dorn.

So far, police have not found anyone in the area who can verify if Grade was the driver or saw him run into his house. Gilbert police cars don't have video cameras.

Police are urging anyone who was a witness or has information to contact them.

However, Grade could still be arrested.

Grade walked out of his home toward his SUV during the stakeout. Officers stopped him from opening the car door, and Grade yelled profanities, according to police reports.

As officers tried to detain him for questioning, Grade kicked an officer multiple times, records show. He was not arrested, but Marino said that police may seek charges of failure to obey a police officer.

Former colleagues of Grade say he's been on a downward spiral for years. And court and police records reveal a man with a complicated past, including:

Grade has a documented substance abuse problem, dating back to the early 1990s, records show.

He's been divorced and tied up in custody battles in recent years.

Police have responded to his home 14 times since 2005, including an arrest on suspicion of domestic violence in 2007.

His medical license was revoked in 2007; lawsuits show that Grade prescribed a drug to a woman in 2004 that reacted badly with other medications, killing her.

Neighbors also say the man once slept in a tent on his front yard for weeks.