California’s “Yellow Alert Law” aims to combat hit-and-run incidents by facilitating the quick tracking and apprehension of suspects. Here are the details regarding this law:
1. Implementation Date: The Yellow Alert Law was enacted on July 19, 2022, when Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1732 into law.
2. Law Details: This law allows law enforcement agencies to issue a Yellow Alert for hit-and-run incidents resulting in death or serious bodily injury. The alert can be activated when specific information about the suspect or the suspect’s vehicle is available. This includes complete or partial license plate numbers and other unique identifying characteristics like the make, model, and color of the vehicle.
3. How It Works: The Yellow Alert system can display a vehicle license plate or description on freeway signs if believed to be involved in a hit-and-run crash. Upon activation, the California Highway Patrol assists by issuing the alert through changeable message signs.
4. Consequences for Hit and Run:
- Misdemeanor Hit and Run: Involving only property damage, the consequences include up to 6 months in jail or misdemeanor probation, fines up to $1,000, restitution for property damage, and 2 points on the California driving record.
- Misdemeanor Hit and Run Causing Injury or Death: Penalties include up to 1 year in jail and/or fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.
- Felony Hit and Run: If the hit and run causes injury or death, penalties escalate to 2, 3, or 4 years in state prison and/or fines between $1,000 to $10,000.
5. Impact on Drivers: This law impacts drivers in California by heightening the likelihood of apprehension following a hit-and-run incident. It leverages public visibility through freeway signs, making it more challenging for offenders to evade law enforcement. Additionally, the severe legal consequences for hit-and-run offenses serve as a deterrent, encouraging drivers to remain at accident scenes and comply with legal obligations.
6. Text of the Law: The full text of the Yellow Alert Law is found below.
“In order for a Yellow Alert to be activated, law enforcement must be satisfied the following criteria have been met (Government Code section 8594.15):
- A person has been killed due to a hit-and-run incident.
- There is an indication that a suspect has fled the scene utilizing the state highway system or is likely to be observed by the public on the state highway system.
- The investigating law enforcement agency has additional information concerning the suspect or the suspect’s vehicle, including, but not limited to, any of the following:
- The complete license plate number of the suspect’s vehicle.
- A partial license plate number and additional unique identifying characteristics, such as the make, model, and color of the suspect’s vehicle, which could reasonably lead to the apprehension of a suspect.
- The identity of a suspect.
- Public dissemination of available information could either help avert further harm or accelerate apprehension of a suspect based on any factor, including, but not limited to, the time elapsed between a hit-and-run incident and the request or the likelihood that an activation would reasonably lead to the apprehension of a suspect.
What to do if you were involved in a hit and run accident?
If you are involved in a hit-and-run accident, there are several essential steps you should take:
- Assess Your Condition and Ensure Safety: First, check your physical condition and safety situation. If needed, leave the vehicle safely and turn on emergency blinkers. Attend to the safety of any passengers or other drivers involved in the crash if possible.
- Gather Information About the Fleeing Vehicle: Try to memorize or write down the license plate number of the vehicle that hit you. If possible, take a photo of the car and license plate, or memorize as many details as you can, such as car make, model, color, and any unique marks like bumper stickers or dents.
- Report the Accident to the Police: Call 911, especially if there are injuries. Provide the police with the license plate number and your best description of the driver and vehicle that hit you. This information will help them identify the hit-and-run driver as quickly as possible.
- Seek Medical Attention: Even if you feel okay, it’s important to seek professional medical attention. Delayed injuries might not be immediately apparent, and a medical professional can document the full extent of your condition.
- Contact a Lawyer: Before reporting the accident to your insurance company, consider seeking legal advice from an experienced auto accident attorney, especially for guidance on dealing with insurance matters and to understand your rights for compensation.
- File an Insurance Claim: Inform your insurance provider about the incident. In California, you have up to two years to make a claim for a hit-and-run, but it’s advisable to do it as soon as possible. Document all repairs to your car and any medical treatments received. Your collision coverage will help cover damage to your car. If the hit-and-run driver is identified, you may make a claim against their liability coverage. If they are uninsured, or if you can’t identify them, your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can still apply for bodily injury but not for property damage unless the driver’s identity is known..
Remember, it’s crucial to stay calm and collected during this process, gather as much information as possible, and keep detailed records of all communications and treatments related to the accident.
In summary, the Yellow Alert Law in California is a significant measure aimed at reducing hit-and-run incidents by enhancing the capacity to track and apprehend suspects quickly, thereby increasing accountability and promoting safer driving practices.