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Disciplinary Reporter Case Digest

Attorney ID 52407
Attorney Name Watkins, William Austin
DBP Docket No. 38 DB 2000
Supreme Court Docket No. 580 D.D. No. 3
County Monroe
Disciplinary Counsel Patti S. Bednarik
Counsel for Respondent Pro Se
Decision Date 2001-11-20
Effective Date 2002-04-09
Case Digest Petitioner filed a Petition for Discipline based on a 1999 conviction for leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injury or death and a 1994 conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol. The facts underlying the 1994 DUI conviction were that Respondent crossed the center line of a state route, and was stopped as a result of that traffic violation. The officer noticed indicia of driving under the influence of alcohol and arrested Respondent, whose blood alcohol content was .21 percent. Respondent was sentenced to a 30-day to one-year term of incarceration for that incident. The 1999 conviction arose as a result of Respondentís failure to notice a car stopped in his lane, waiting to make a left-hand turn. Respondent hit the occupied car so hard that the car spun 360 degrees. Respondent drove away from the scene of the accident without giving information or aid. Respondent said that after he went home, he realized that he had hit something, but it was unclear to him what he had hit. He claimed not to remember the accident. A witness wrote down Respondentís license plate. When originally contacted by the police, Respondent claimed he didnít know who was driving his car. The day after the incident, Respondent, accompanied by an attorney, went down to the police station, and gave a statement admitting his involvement in the accident. Respondent failed to report either of his convictions as required to do so under Pa.R.D.E. 214(a). Respondent pled guilty and was sentenced to intermediate punishment for one year, including a two week period to be service in outmate restrictive intermediate punishment. Prior to Respondentís two convictions, he had been accepted into the ARD program after a DUI arrest in 1990. Mitigating circumstances--Respondent cooperated with ODC, and produced seven character letters attesting to his moral fitness. He had no prior disciplinary history. Aggravating circumstances--The victims of the car accident had ongoing pain in their necks and backs involving soft tissue injury. He failed to report his convictions. The Board opined that the Respondent did not adequately express remorse or an understanding of the nature of the hit and run accident.
Rule Violation(s) Pa.R.D.E. 203(b)(1)
Discipline Imposed Public Censure
Points of Law While most DUI convictions result in private reprimand, public censure is warranted where aggravated factors including multiple incidents, leaving the scene, injury to others, lack of remorse, and failure to report are involved.
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