I Fled the Scene of an Accident Because I Was Not Licensed – What Now?
Provided by HG.org
In most states, it is legally required for a person involved in a car accident to stop and report the accident. While there may be some exceptions to this rule, leaving the scene of an accident can be considered a crime and may also subject the responsible party to civil liability. Understanding the potential implications of this act can help people avoid possible legal issues or minimize the impact after the event occurs.
What to Do after an Accident
Parties involved in an accident should stay at the scene. If they are suffering any type of injury, they should seek immediate medical attention. They should call the police to document the accident. If possible, they should wait for police to arrive at the scene of the accident. They should check on other people at the scene of the accident and see if they need assistance. They should exchange information with the other driver, including name, contact information, insurance information, proof of insurance and vehicle information. If any witnesses were present at the scene, their information should also be recorded. Once it is safe to do, a call to the responsible driver’s insurance company should be contacted.
When Staying at the Scene is Required
In some cases, a person may not be required to stay at the scene of an accident. If the accident resulted in injury or death, the person must stay at the accident. Also, if any significant damage occurred to property, the driver should remain at the scene of the accident. Motorists may be legally required to take reasonable steps to help an injured person. This legal duty may require them to provide basic first aid or call for assistance.
If a driver hits a stationary object such as a parked car, state law may require him or her to make reasonable efforts to identify the owner of the vehicle and alert him or her to the damage. This may include leaving a written note on the vehicle’s windshield or writing down the vehicle’s information and trying to find the owner’s information from this.
Leaving the scene of an accident may implicate criminal charges. Many states classify a hit and run as a misdemeanor when a person leaves the scene of an accident that only results in property damage. Some states may only consider it a misdemeanor when there is only limited property damage, such as under $1,000. A misdemeanor is typically punishable by up to one year in jail, possibly coupled with fines of $1,000 or more. Being involved in a hit and run can usually result in at least a traffic citation.
Felony Hit and Run
In other circumstances, fleeing the scene of an accident can be considered a felony offense. These charges may be made against a person who is involved in an accident that involves injuries to the other driver, a passenger or a pedestrian. All states consider the act a felony if the accident results in the death of another person.
Felony hit and run penalties are different in each state. However, it is not uncommon for a conviction to result in years behind bars coupled with significant fines.
If a serious accident resulted in the hit and run, law enforcement may conduct an investigation to try to find the identity of the person who fled the scene. This may include asking witnesses about what they saw, getting camera footage from traffic cameras, tollways or business cameras in the area and asking the public for information about the identity of the driver. If they determine the identity of the person who fled the scene, they may secure an arrest warrant for that individual.
When It May Not Be Considered Hit and Run
In some situations, the accident may not be considered a hit and run. The motorist may have hit a stationery object that did not result in damage. Hit and run laws usually do not apply to witnesses or others who were not directly involved in the accident. A passenger in either vehicle may not be required to stay at the scene of the accident.
Contact a Lawyer for Assistance
If you have been involved in a hit and run accident, you may wish to consider consulting with a lawyer. He or she can launch an effective defense. A lawyer can assess whether you should turn yourself in based on the circumstances involved in the case.
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.