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Fleeing The Scene Is Not The Answer

In an ideal world, when mistakes are made, such as two drivers getting into an accident, or, worse yet, one driver hitting a cyclist or pedestrian, things would get resolved quickly. The person responsible for the accident, having accepted his or her role in the incident, would obey the law, provide identification, and remain at the scene until the police arrived and due process takes place with assessing the exact events. A subsequent legal case will be required for something like negligence, personal injury, or, for more severe situations, drunk driving and/or vehicular manslaughter if deaths are involved.

Unfortunately, some people, because they know they are responsible for a serious injury, do not want to deal with the consequences of that action. They may decide that they can’t be punished if they aren’t present to deal with the police and so choose to leave instead.

This is known as a “hit and run,” or, more formally, fleeing the scene. And while it was much easier in the past to simply do this and not face any consequences, 21st century forensics, investigative techniques and surveillance technology have made it much more difficult for people to escape the consequences of their vehicular actions.

Always Watching

Today, even with something as a rapid and tragic as a motorist hitting a pedestrian or cyclist and immediately driving off, the odds of success at disappearing are much slimmer. Most people today have smartphones equipped with cameras capable of both still and video photography. This means that recordings of the events can be taken quickly, and even a shot of a vehicle fleeing the scene may be enough for image enhancement software to make out the license plate of a fleeing vehicle.

In urban areas, problem intersections with a lot of violations are often equipped with cameras to monitor traffic activity. If a hit and run occurs and a driver flees the scene, it’s a simple matter for police to get eye witness testimony about the time of the incident, make of the vehicle and any distinguishing features such as damage incurred, then compare that with traffic footage of surveillance cameras in the areas to see if any vehicles matching the details appear during the corresponding time.

The Stakes Are Raised

If you try to flee the scene of an accident because you don’t want to pay the damages to another driver, or don’t want to deal with an injury lawsuit, you’ve just made the situation worse. As with drunk driving, a hit and run charge upgrades what should have been just a civil lawsuit into a criminal charge that the police can prosecute.

This means that in addition to facing civil suits such as personal injury or wrongful death, a driver that flees the scene may also face a jail sentence if found guilty in the criminal trial. In trying to “be smart” and avoid punishment, modern technology and investigation make it far more likely that people trying to save some money may end up with a criminal conviction instead. Don’t take the chance on a criminal charge, obey the law, and get a good personal injury lawyer at your side, rather than a criminal defense one.