Hit-and-runs should be prosecuted as felonies, says Greek road crimes watchdog

Hit-and-run drivers should be prosecuted for felony, the SOS-Road Crimes PanHellenic Association said on Friday, as more than 25 hit-and-run incidents are reported in the capital Athens alone each year.

Drunkenness, uninsured vehicles and lack of driving license are the most important reasons for drivers abandoning their victims, said SOS-Road Crimes, a watchdog demanding an amendment of Article 43 of the Road Traffic Code and the application of Article 306 of the Penal Code in such cases, which raises the offence to a felony, from the current misdemeanor.

“In recent years, hit-and-run incidents are a very common phenomenon,” president of the organization George Kouvidis told Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA). “It is very important to get help from the dozens of cameras that record any movements. There is even a case of an arrest made after one-and-a-half-years,” he added.

Kouvidis mentioned the gruesome case of a man “who was left on the asphalt for only a short while after a hit-and-run incident, while another seven vehicles ran over him, requiring a DNA sample to identify him.”

Manolis Stavroulakis, also member of the watchdog’s board, said “the law essentially helps the hit-and-run driver go virtually unpunished, as everyone relies on Article 43 – with fines equating a simple hand slap – instead of Article 306, which considers hit-and-runs a felony.” In addition, he noted, “the tactic hit-and-run drivers use is to show up at a police station two months after the incident, to avoid getting charged under the in flagrante delicto law,” Stavroulakis pointed out. Some of these cases, he said, “can then take up to ten years to be tried at court, and the sentence is often a two- to six-month removal of the driver’s license.”