The “hit and run” statute, Vehicle Code § 20001, requires drivers to stop and render aid to anyone injured in the accident. A recent Fifth District Court of Appeal upheld a hit and run conviction even if the defendant was not the driver, because he was the owner of the vehicle and present at the scene of the injury causing accident.
In the recent case People v. Mace, the defendant’s truck hit a pole, and police found defendant’s injured sister in the passenger’s seat. While the sister initially stated the defendant was driving the vehicle during the accident, she later wondered aloud whether she was the driver.
The court reasoned, Vehicle Code sections 20001 and 20003 require the driver of a vehicle in to check on the welfare of others in his vehicle following a collision. Where a driver knows that a person has been injured in an accident, a duty arises to determine whether the injured person needs assistance. Although sections 20001 and 20003 impose duties on a “driver” involved in an accident, a “driver of the vehicle” includes “the owner of the machine who is present and has the control of its operation.”