HIT AND RUN
Hit and Run is a serious offense and can lead to severe consequences. If you have been involved in leaving the scene of an accident or hit and run it is important that you understand the law and potential consequences before speaking to any other people, the police or insurance companies.
Hit and Run: Non-Injury Related Accident
Attended Vehicle (A.R.S. § 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:
- stop either immediately or as close to the accident as possible
- 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.
Possible Penalties: A violation of leaving the scene pursuant to A.R.S. § 28-662 is a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 4 months in jail and a $1,500 fine. Additionally, the court may order MVD to suspend your license for one year.
Unattended Vehicle (A.R.S. § 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,
- 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
- leave that information in writing in a conspicuous place on the vehicle that was struck.
Possible Penalties: A violation of leaving the scene pursuant to A.R.S. § 28-664 is a class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Again, the court may order MVD to suspend your license for one year.
If you are in an accident resulting in only damage to property, the law requires that you must:
- take reasonable steps to locate the owner of the property and
- let them know about the accident, and
- give them your name and address, and
- provide them your vehicle registration, and
- if requested, show your driver’s license to that person.
Possible Penalties: A violation of leaving the scene pursuant to A.R.S. § 28-665 is a class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Hit and Run: Injury Related Accident
Minor Injury (A.R.S. § 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.
Possible Penalties: A violation of leaving the scene pursuant to A.R.S. § 28-661 is a class 5 felony punishable by a presumptive term of 1.5 years in prison – probation is available. Additionally, the court will order MVD to revoke your license for 3 years.
Serious Injury or Death (A.R.S. § 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
- provide the driver’s name, address and registration for the vehicle
- if asked, provide a driver’s license.
Possible Penalties: A violation of leaving the scene pursuant to A.R.S. § 28-661 in which you are found to be at fault for the accident is a is a class 2 felony punishable by a presumptive term of 5 years in prison – probation is available. Additionally, the court will order MVD to revoke your license for 10 years if the accident involves a death and 5 years if the accident involves a serious injury.
A violation of leaving the scene pursuant to A.R.S. § 28-661 in which you are found not to be at fault for the accident is a is a class 3 felony punishable by a presumptive term of 3.5 years in prison – probation is available. Additionally, the court will order MVD to revoke your license for 10 years if the accident involves a death and 5 years if the accident involves a serious injury.
How do Police Find Hit and Run Drivers?
If you have been involved in leaving the scene of an accident, law enforcement is probably interested in speaking to you. Many times, a police officer or a detective will leave a business card on your door or call you directly. Police will often go to the location of the registered owner, if the car was left at the accident scene or a license plate number was obtained by a witness.
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 lawyer, your statements may lead to criminal charges for leaving the scene as well as additional charges for crimes such as DUI, reckless driving, criminal speeding and vehicular homicide in certain cases. The safest thing to do if you have left the scene of an accident is to contact an attorney.
Hit and Run Defenses
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 hit and run defenses. Because this is a serious charge, it pays to have the right lawyer on your side.
Hit and Run Lawyers
A charge of leaving the scene of an accident could be a felony. 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 hit and run conviction make it essential that you get legal help. At Feldman & Royle, our attorneys are experienced in defending serious traffic cases. Call us for a free consultation.