Hit-and-run sentences called fair

The Cayman Islands’ top cop said this week that fleeing the scene of a car accident isn’t a sure way for errant drivers to escape a longer jail sentence, especially for those who’ve been involved in a serious wreck.

‘The reality is, once they get caught — and most of them do get caught — then it’s going to make it much worse,’ Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan said Wednesday. ‘They’ve not only attracted the original penalty for the crime and offence that they fled for, but they’ll also get an enhanced level of punishment for fleeing the scene.’

Mr. Kernohan was asked whether he thought the one year maximum sentence with a possible $2,000 fine is enough for drivers who run from car wrecks.

Cayman has seen at least four highly publicised hit and run accidents since 15 December which have left one person dead and five others hospitalised. Arrests have been made in connection with three of the four cases.

The commissioner cautioned against tougher sentencing laws as a one-size-fits-all solution.

‘A year imprisonment for leaving the scene of an accident — could apply to somebody that was running because they thought they had a busted tail light, and were going to get prosecuted by police,’ he said.

‘If you’re involved in a serious hit and run (causing) injury or death, then the punishments from that point of view are pretty high. I think (the current law) is probably placed about right.’

The potential penalty for failing to stop and give information at an accident scene in Cayman is actually greater than the punishment for a first offence for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; which carries up to a $1,000 fine and six months in prison.

If a driver is convicted of dangerous or reckless driving after being indicted, the punishment can go up to two years in prison and a $3,000 fine.

Conviction for causing death by dangerous or reckless driving brings up to a 10 year prison sentence, and the potential loss of driving privileges for five years or longer.

Mr. Kernohan said drivers generally flee an accident scene because they had something to hide, including those who’ve been driving drunk or driving under the influence of drugs.

DUI is considered an aggravating feature by the court if the driver is prosecuted for dangerous driving or causing death by dangerous or reckless driving.