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The legal consequences from fleeing the scene of an accident

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Published: Jan. 2, 2020 at 5:46 PM CST
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They can happen in seconds and they can happen anytime. Hit-and-run accidents can involve severe consequences. Regardless if there was noticeable damage or not, leaving the scene of an accident can result in severe penalties - including prison time and significant fines.

Timothy Rensch is a Defense Attorney and Owner of Rensch Law Office in Rapid City.

"If you're just in a little fender bender and leave the scene, that itself is a separate offense -- class one misdemeanor, the same as a DUI. If there is a bodily injury or anything like that and a person leaves the scene of the accident, that is a felony and that can land a person in prison," said Rensch.

Every day in the United States, 30 people die from drunk driving accidents. If that accident was a hit-and-run and the driver decides to run off, proving the driver was intoxicated can be difficult.

"If a person leaves the scene of an accident and time goes by, there's no way to measure the blood alcohol content, unless they get them within several hours -- then they can extrapolate backward. But if a person is gone for a couple of days, there's no way to prove exactly what the blood alcohol content is," said Rensch.

Rensch says people try to sneak away from the scene for many reasons, such as: being intoxicated, not having a license, using someone else's car -- or simply being scared. If the run-away suspect isn't found until days after the accident, oftentimes there isn't much evidence to help.

"There could be other information, other videos and things like that they could use to try and prove someone was under the influence... but that's a long shot," said Rensch.

Rensch says the price of leaving the scene ends up more costly in the end, so hiding or fleeing the scene will just make charges worse.