The Law Behind Hit And RunsThere have been three pedestrian fatalities in Calgary in 2014 thus far, the most recent tragedy being a hit-and-run accident on Monday.

There are two key statutes that govern hit-and-run accidents in Alberta. The first is the Traffic Safety Act, which imposes a duty on all drivers who are directly or indirectly involved in an accident to remain at the scene of the accident, or, if the driver has left, to return immediately to the scene. The Traffic Safety Act imposes further duties on drivers who are involved in accidents to render reasonable assistance where needed and to provide a written statement to the police if required. A contravention of the hit-and-run provisions in the Traffic Safety Act can result in a fine or penalty, and more importantly, authorizes police officers to arrest the offending driver without a warrant.

What you may not know is that a hit-and-run is considered also a criminal offense, even if no one is injured. The Criminal Code of Canada states that the offence of failing to stop at a scene of an accident, if no one is hurt, carries a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment. If the accident caused bodily harm, the maximum sentence jumps to a 10 year imprisonment. If a hit-and-run driver causes the death of another person, or knows that the person has suffered bodily harm and is reckless as to whether the person may die from that bodily harm, the driver faces life in prison. The driver from the hit-and-run accident on Monday has been charged with this offence.