HIT AND RUN

Hit and run is a serious offense and can lead to severe consequences. Under Arizona hit and run law, leaving the scene of an accident can be broken down into two main categories:

  1. Hit and Run Accident – Non-Injury Related; or
  2. Hit and Run Accident – Injury Related

If you have been involved in leaving the scene of an accident, it is important that you understand the law and potential consequences before speaking to anyone besides an experienced hit and run attorney about the accident.

Hit and Run

HIT AND RUN ACCIDENT – NON-INJURY RELATED

The least severe of the two types of hit and run cases are those that involve an accident but where no one sustained injuries as a result of the accident. This is not to say that a non-injury related offenses can’t have serious consequences, but rather that the consequences of this type of crime are normally less severe than when an injury or death occurs. Hit and run Arizona law separates non-injury related accident into three separate categories:

  • Attended Vehicle – if you hit a car that someone else is driving;
  • Unattended Vehicle – if you hit a parked car;
  • Property Damage Only – if you hit a fence, a mailbox or some other personal property.

Attended Vehicle (ARS 28 662)

If you are in an accident with a vehicle driven or attended by another person, and the accident involves no injuries, the law requires that you must:

  1. Stop either immediately or as close to the accident as possible; and
  2. Remain at the scene until you have:
    • Provided the other person with your name, address and car registration information; and
    • If requested, show your driver’s license to that person.

Hit and Run Penalty – Attended Vehicle

A violation of leaving the scene pursuant to ARS 28 662, is a class 2 misdemeanor. The attended vehicle hit and run penalty may include:

  • From 0 days to 4 months in jail;
  • Up to a $1,500 fine; and
  • The court may order MVD to suspend your license for one year.

Unattended Vehicle (ARS 28 664)

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.

  1. 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
  2. Leave that information in writing in a conspicuous place on the vehicle that was struck.

Hit and Run Penalty – Unattended Vehicle

Pursuant to ARS 28 664, leaving the scene of an accident with an attended vehicle but with no injuries is a class 3 misdemeanor. The hit and run penalty may include:

  • From 0 to 30 days in jail;
  • Up to a $500 fine;
  • The court may order MVD to suspend your license for one year.

Property Damage Only (ARS 28 665)

If you are in an accident resulting in only damage to property such as hitting a fence or mailbox, ARS 28 665 requires that you must:

  1. Take reasonable steps to locate the owner of the property; and
  2. Let them know about the accident; and
  3. Give them your name and address; and
  4. Provide them your vehicle registration; and
  5. If requested, show your driver’s license to that person.

Hit and Run Penalty – Property Damage Only

A violation of leaving the scene pursuant to ARS 28 665 in which only damage to personal property has occurred is a class 3 misdemeanor. The hit and run penalty may include:

  • From 0 to 30 days in jail;
  • Up to a $500 fine.

Leaving the scene of an accidentHIT AND RUN ACCIDENT – INJURY RELATED

When an injury or death is involved in a hit and run accident, the stakes are understandably much higher. Law enforcement tends to investigate these types of leaving the scene of an accident cases more seriously than when the violation only involves damage to property. Hit and run Arizona law separates injury related accidents into two separate categories:

  • Minor Injury; and
  • Serious Injury or Death.

Minor Injury (ARS 28 661)

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.

Hit and Run Penalty – Minor Injury

A violation of leaving the scene of an accident pursuant to ARS 28 661 is a class 5 felony. The hit and run penalty may include:

  • Probation; or
  • Between .5 and 2.5 years in prison;
  • 3-year license revocation.

Serious Injury or Death (ARS 28 661)

Where the accident has caused a serious physical injury or the death of someone involved, you must immediately stop at the scene of the accident and

  1. Provide the driver’s name, address and registration for the vehicle; and
  2. If asked, provide a driver’s license.

Hit and Run Penalty – At-Fault Death or Serious Injury

A violation of leaving the scene pursuant to ARS 28 661 in which you are found to be at fault for the accident is a is a class 2 felony. The hit and run penalty may include:

  • Probation; or
  • Between 3 and 12.5 years in prison;
  • Revocation of your license for 10 years if the accident involves a death and 5 years if the accident involves a serious injury.

Hit and Run Penalty – Not-At-Fault Death or Serious Injury

A violation of leaving the scene pursuant to ARS 28 661 in which you are found not to be at fault for the accident is a is a class 3 felony. The hit and run penalty may include:

  • Probation; or
  • Between 2 and 8.75 years in prison;
  • Revocation of your license for 10 years if the accident involves a death and 5 years if the accident involves a serious injury.

Hit and Run Charges

HIT AND RUN – DO’S AND DON’TS

When it comes to hit and run, the things you do immediately after the accident can help you avoid being charged and better your chances of a positive outcome, if you are charged. Swift decision making and thoughtful consideration of representation is imperative.

What to do in a Hit and Run Accident

In order to know what to do in a hit and run accident you should first know what police do in a hit and run.  Generally speaking, police will attempt to locate you collecting witness statements, reviewing nearby security footage and by patrolling the area around the accident for a broken down car or evidence of an accident. More often than not, police will respond to the address associated with the registration of the vehicle involved in the accident. If, however, a suspect gives the other driver partial information before leaving the scene or a witness happens to know the identity of the suspect, police will often use motor vehicle records to locate a last known address.

The bottom line is that police will be looking for you and will be requesting that you speak to them about the incident. As such, you MUST contact a knowledgeable hit and run lawyer prior to speaking to police. Most criminal defense attorneys, including the lawyers at Feldman & Royle, provide a free consultation to help you understand your rights. For helpful tips on hiring a lawyer, click here.

How to Get Out of a Hit and Run Charge

The fact that an officer or other witness says you did not stop immediately, or you did not take all the steps required after an accident, does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted. The following examples will demonstrate how you may be able to challenge this type of evidence:

  • Example 1.You fail to stop immediately at the scene, because there is no safe place to stop your car. The law provides that if you stop as close as possible to the accident and return to the scene, you have satisfied that portion of the law.
  • Example 2.You stopped at the scene, you and the other driver exchanged information, and then you left. After you departed, the other driver began feeling dizzy, eventually passed out, and had to be transported to the hospital. You are charged with a felony for failing to render assistance to the injured person. Since you had no knowledge of the injury, and you had no information that would lead a reasonable person to conclude there had been an injury, you are not guilty of the offense.
  • Example 3.You continue to drive away because you are unaware that the accident you were involved in resulted in any damage. Many times, it is unclear if damage resulted or if damage was preexisting. As such, you would not be obligated to remain at the scene or exchange information.

These are just a couple of examples of possible defenses. Because this is a serious charge, it pays to have the right lawyer on your side.

Hit and Run Attorney

A charge of leaving the scene of an accident could be a felony and you could be looking at serious jail time. Even a misdemeanor violation could in some cases lead to jail time, the loss of your driver’s license, increased insurance premiums and employment consequences. The possible penalties for a leaving the scene of an accident conviction make it essential that you get legal help. Each of the lawyers at Feldman & Royle, is an experienced hit and run attorney and can defend your rights. Call us for a free consultation.

Hit and Run Attorney

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)


1How long after a hit and run accident can you be charged?
The length of time the State has to file hit and run charges depends on type of offense. If the offense involved only property and no one was injured, then the offense is likely a misdemeanor and the State has one (1) year to charge you with a crime. If, however, an injury was sustained, then the offense could be a felony and the State would have seven (7) years to charge you with leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death.

2What do police do for hit and run?
Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime in Arizona. How police handle the situation varies from police agency to police agency and based on the extent of damage or harm caused by the accident. That said, rest assured police take hit and run seriously and will normally be looking to track down a suspect regardless of how minor the accident.

3What happens if you hit and run and get caught?
The hit and run penalty ranges depending on the damage or injury that occurred as a result of the accident. In instances of misdemeanor hit and run that only involves damage to property, penalties mean a conviction on your record, a fine, a possible license suspension and possible jail time. If, however, the accident involved an injury or death, then prison or prison time is quite common and lengthy license suspensions are mandatory.

4How long do police investigate hit and run?
The length of a police investigation for leaving the scene of an accident depends on a number of factors. While some simple leaving the scene of an accident investigations are open and shut others can span weeks or months as police track down witnesses, surveillance cameras and cell phone tower information on suspects.

5How long after hit and run will police contact you?
Police normally locate a hit and run suspect by tracking the registration of the vehicle in the accident back to a physical address. It is not uncommon to have police immediately leave the scene of an accident and go directly to the registrant’s home in hopes of locating and speaking to the register owner of the vehicle. In other instances, patrol officers will generate investigative leads and a detective will follow up in the days or weeks after the accident.

6How do Police Find Hit and Run Drivers?
If you have been involved in leaving the scene of an accident, law enforcement is interested in speaking to you. How police find hit and run drivers can depend on many factors. Most commonly, if witnesses or surveillance cameras in the area obtain your license plate number, police will often track the registered owner of the vehicle to their home or call the phone number associated with the registration. Many times, a police officer or a detective will knock on your door and leave a business card on your door if you don’t answer. In some instances, police can go to your place of business or even obtain an arrest warrant to have you arrested while in public, at home or at work.

7Do police investigate minor hit and runs?
Absolutely. Even a hit and run with minor damage is a crime in Arizona and police will normally be looking to locate and speak to anyone involved.

8I left the scene of an accident what do I do?
It is of the utmost importance to remember that you are not obligated to speak to police. The important thing to remember is that by speaking to an attorney, the attorney can normally speak to the police on your behalf. Without an experienced hit and run attorney, your statements may lead to criminal charges for leaving the scene as well as additional charges for crimes such as DUIreckless driving, and vehicular homicide in certain cases. The safest thing to do if you have left the scene of an accident is to contact an experienced hit and run attorney.

9What is hit and run?
Hit and run is the common name for the crime of leaving the scene of an accident in Arizona. These offenses can be be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending of the nature of the accident.

10What is the penalty for a hit and run?
The hit and run penalty depends on the extent of injuries, if any, or the type of accident you were involved in, if it there was not an injury. Penalties for leaving the scene of an accident that involves only minor damage to property can be as minimal as a small fine where hit and run from an accident involving death can carry a lengthy prison sentence.