A bill recently signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown requires California’s public alert system to help in the effort to track down hit-and-run drivers. The new law uses emergency “yellow alerts” to broadcast the key details of fleeing hit-and-run vehicles. On digital freeway signs, the car’s color, make, model and license plate will be displayed in real-time. Hit-and-run collisions are on the rise, and especially in Southern California. In major cities like Los Angeles, nearly half of vehicular collisions involve a driver that flees the scene. In 2014 alone, drivers of about 20,000 accidents left the scene and only 20 percent of the cases were ever solved. According to state lawmakers that is about to change. In Colorado, this same program of “yellow alerts” quickly increased the arrest rate to 76 percent in hit-and-run cases. So what is a hit-and-run?
There are two types of hit-and-run crimes in California. Penal Code 2001 applies to vehicle collisions that result in an injury or fatality, while Penal Code 2002 applies to accidents that result in damage to any property that is involved. Both statutes require that any driver who is in an accident must immediately provide his or her name and current residence to the other driver. A hit and run crime involving any form of injury is punishable by fines between one thousand and ten thousand dollars and up to 4 years incarceration in state prison. A hit and run crime involving only damage to property and no injury, is punishable by a fine of up to one thousand dollars and six months of county jail time.