Appeal from Madison Circuit Court. (CC-94-1576). Lynwood Smith, TRIAL JUDGE.
Released for Publication July 12, 1996.
Taylor, Presiding Judge. All The Judges Concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Taylor
The appellant, Jimmy Charles Dake, pleaded guilty to four violations of § 32-10-2, Code of Alabama 1975, for leaving the scene of an accident. For each conviction, the appellant was sentenced to one year in the penitentiary followed by four years of probation. The sentences were to be served concurrently.
The state's evidence tended to show that on July 3, 1994, the appellant drove his pickup truck into the rear of a mule-pulled wagon in Owens Crossroads, Alabama. All four passengers in the wagon were injured in the collision. One victim suffered a lacerated liver and spleen, one suffered a broken leg, one lost the use of a finger, and one victim sustained a broken foot. The appellant did not attempt to aid these victims and he fled the scene when the police arrived.
The appellant contends that his convictions on four counts of "leaving the scene of an accident" violated his constitutional rights under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, because, he argues, there was only one "leaving." The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states in pertinent part:
"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb...."
The statute under which the appellant was convicted, § 32-10-2, Code of Alabama 1975, reads as follows:
"The driver of any motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or the death of any person or damage to any vehicle which is driven or attended by any person shall give his name, address and the registration number of the vehicle he is driving, shall upon request exhibit his driver's license to the person struck or the driver or occupant of or person attending any motor or other vehicle collided with or damaged and shall render to any person injured in such accident reasonable assistance, including the transportation of, or the making of arrangements for the transportation of such person to a physician or hospital for medical or surgical treatment, if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or if such transportation is requested by the injured person."
Under this statute, therefore, the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident in which someone is injured or killed must 1) provide a name, address, and vehicle registration number, 2) exhibit a driver's license upon request, and 3) render reasonable assistance to any person injured in the accident. The appellant asserts that he violated these statutorily imposed duties only once. He contends that only one conviction should have been allowed because, he argues, there was only one accident and one criminal act -leaving the scene of the accident without rendering assistance to the victims. The state asserts that four convictions were lawful because the appellant failed to aid four injured people. This is an issue of first impression.
In McKinney v. State, 511 So. 2d 220 (Ala. 1987), the Alabama Supreme Court applied the principles set out in Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, 52 S. Ct. 180, 76 L. Ed. 306 (1932), *fn1 and its progeny and held that a single criminal act that causes injury to more than one person could constitute more than one offense and support more than one prosecution and conviction. However, the Court stated, "'To truly adopt the majority view ... multiple convictions should be allowed only for crimes against persons.'" McKinney, 511 So. 2d at 225, quoting R. Owens, Alabama's Minority Status: A Single Criminal Act Injuring Multiple Persons Constitutes Only A Single Offense, 16 Cum.L.Rev. 85 (1985-86). The Court in McKinney held that "legislative intent to allow multiple prosecutions for a single act that injures more than one person ...