Users of the California roadways are not immune to the unfortunate prevalence of automobile accidents that involve a fleeing from the scene by one of the vehicles involved. Commonly noted as a hit-and-run, this fleeing an accident scene can amount to more than a misdemeanor traffic offense and may be a felony with a very stiff punishment.

In the recent publicized tragedy involving Chris Soules, formerly of the television show The Bachelor, Mr. Soules was a driver who allegedly fled the scene of a fatal accident he allegedly caused. Prison time for the felony is a distinct possibility, if convicted. Leaving the scene may also result in steep penalties that would otherwise not have occurred based on the fact of a fatal accident alone. Moreover, calling 911 after leaving the scene of one’s accident does not negate the hit-and-run, although it remains to be seen if doing so will have an effect on the outcome of Mr. Soules’ case.

Passengers or drivers are not the only victims of hit-and-run accidents. USA Today reports that the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that about 20 percent of pedestrian fatalities are hit-and-runs and more than half of all hit-and-runs include pedestrian victims. It is believed that there may be a higher incidence of leaving the scene of the accident among those drivers who believe they have done something else wrong with regard to operating the vehicle, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or driving without a valid license.

Regardless of the reasons behind a driver’s decision to leave the scene of an accident, the criminal penalties can be very stringent, adding far more legal difficulties to the driver being charged than the accident itself.