How Much Trouble Can You Face For Committing a Hit-And-Run?

Hit and Run Laws

TRIAD, NC – Police across the Triad are investigating several hit-and-run crashes.

The most recent cases involve the death of an 18-month-old toddler in Greensboro and the death of a 23-year-old man from Mebane – both killed in hit and run crashes.

But the problem doesn’t stop there.

Police in Reidsville has investigated 80 hit and run crashes so far in 2016.

In the last 12 months, there were 413 hit and run crashes in Burlington.

There have been 1,346 hit-and-run crashes in Winston-Salem since last September.

But Greensboro has the most by far – police in the Gate City have investigated 3,650 hit and runs including 42 that involved pedestrians.

It's important to note that those numbers account for all hit-and-run crashes, including minor accidents in parking lots.

Still, with numbers this high, some parents say something needs to change.

George and Pat Gates smile as they look back at pictures of their oldest son, Stephen.

But they'll never forget what happened to Stephen on October 4, 2003.

Stephen was hit and killed while changing a tire on I-40.

The driver didn't stop until later down the road when he switched places with the passenger and then kept driving.

"It always has been hard for us to hear the word accident regarding our son's death,” said Pat Gates. “It just didn't seem like an accident when somebody just drives away."

Since then, the Gates family has worked with NC lawmakers to make stricter state laws for hit-and-run cases.

For instance, the ‘Stephen Gates Law’ was put into effect which forces both the driver and the passenger to stay on the scene of a crash until they are both dismissed by police.

George Gates says it’s a common sense law that everyone should follow without consideration.

“These are not cosmic accidental happenings. They are events that occur because somebody chooses to do or not to do something,” said George Gates. “They have to be held accountable for that.

If you hit someone or something, your first instinct might be to run and hide.

Gates says he understands that but doesn’t recognize that as a legitimate excuse for someone to flee the scene of an accident.

“I can't bring myself to believe that we are at a place where there are that many people who have no regard, no regard, for other human beings that they would simply drive off,” he said.

Attorney Joel Oakley says you're much better off if you stop and wait for police.

“You subject yourself to another crime and possibly another felony and longer prison time if you leave the scene,” said Oakley.

Oakley says someone who leaves the scene of a crash could face an additional 10 years or more in prison, depending on the circumstances.

“That's a crime within itself. If there are serious injuries, you are up to a felony. Even if you are a passenger of the vehicle and you leave the scene, it can be a felony charge if there are serious injuries or worse,” said Oakley. “Yes, the consequences can be grave if you leave.”

The Gates family doesn't think more regulations is the answer to get people to stop committing hit-and-runs.

They say the only way to make a difference is through education and morality.

“The first instinct is to hide. I don't know if you can legislate that out of a person. You can educate that into people,” said Gates. “

If you are involved in a crash and you decide to stay back and help the victim in the other car instead of leaving the scene, Oakley says the judge and the DA will usually address that with compassion and maybe give you a lesser sentence.

Leaving the scene of any crime can be used as evidence that a judge or a jury can use to determine guilt.

(© 2016 WFMY)


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