Leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal charge under Arizona law. If you have been ticketed or arrested for leaving the scene, you could be facing a felony charge. Talk to the attorneys at Feldman & Royle to find out what you may be up against, and how best to defend the charge.
What is Leaving the Scene – Failure to Stop – Hit-and-Run?
The first thing to understand is that leaving the scene of an accident, also called failure to stop or hit-and-run, is a crime. The seriousness of the crime depends largely on what happens as the result of the accident. In order to violate some of the laws relating to this issue, it is not necessary that you immediately flee the scene. And even if you do leave the scene, this does not mean you are necessarily guilty of an offense. Finally, the requirements will vary depending upon the nature of the damage or injuries resulting from the accident.
Here is a summary of the laws relating to failure to stop:
- Accident with an Unattended Vehicle. If you hit a car and no one is in the other vehicle, and the owner or operator does not appear to be in the area, there are still things you are legally required to do, although the scope of your obligations is less than in other cases. If, for example, you hit a parked car, and no one is in the vicinity, you are still required to stop, and either (a) find the operator or the owner of the car and provide them with the name and address of the driver and owner of your car, or (b) leave that information in writing in a conspicuous place on the vehicle that was struck. A violation of this section is a class 3 misdemeanor.
- Property Damage Only. If you are in an accident with a vehicle driven or attended by another person, and the accident involves no injuries, but only property damage, the law requires that you (a) stop either immediately or as close to the accident as possible, (b) return to the scene of the accident, and (c) remain at the scene until you have (i) provided the other person with your name, address and car registration information, and (ii) if requested, exhibited your driver’s license to that person. A violation of this section is a class 2 misdemeanor.
- Physical Injury. If the accident results in a minor physical injury, then in addition to the requirements of stopping and providing information to the other driver, you must render reasonable assistance to the injured person. This may include arranging for that person to be transported to a doctor or a medical facility for treatment. A violation of this section is a class 5 felony.
- Serious Injury or Death. Where the accident has caused a serious physical injury or death, leaving the scene is a class 3 felony.
Clearly, the requirements, the classification and the potential penalties vary with the circumstances. But no matter which charge you are facing, there may be defenses that apply in your case.