Why Do People Hit & Run?

There were nearly 70,000 hit and run crashes in Florida last year. Many of those were fender-benders, but more than 168 resulted in deaths.

There were 805 hit and run wrecks in Bay County in 2012, with 5 fatalities. The list for why people run is a lengthy one.

"We've found that people who don't have a valid drivers license or may have a warrant or are wanted, don't have insurance, even people who are some place they shouldn't be," said Sgt. Jason Jeter with the Panama City Police Department.

Both Sgt. Jeter and Criminal Defense Attorney Waylon Graham said many hit and runs involve drugs or alcohol.

"Most of the time when you see a classic hit and run it's usually because the driver has been drinking or doing drugs, or both,” said Graham. “They make a calculated risk to haul buggy because they're scared of being charged with DUI manslaughter."

Leaving the scene of a crash involving a death is a first degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

That is more time than someone convicted of DUI manslaughter would serve. For drivers who are not impaired, it just does not make sense to leave the scene.

"If it was truly an accident, then there will be no criminal charges, maybe a civil infraction at the most," said Graham.

Sgt. Jeter added that if you are involved in a hit and run traffic crash, call 911 immediately, and if possible write down the tag number and description of the other vehicle and the driver.