In every state it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident. If you do so, regardless of how minor the accident might be, you may be ticketed and face severe penalties. As a reckless driving attorney from a law firm like the Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, can explain, leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor. Although not as severe as a felony, this is a serious charge that can have life changing consequences. It is recommended you call a traffic ticket lawyer as soon as possible.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Every state has their own traffic regulations and laws. However, each state has established clear rules that mandate drivers to stop their vehicle following an accident. They must also exchange their insurance information and personal details. If one party chooses to call the police, no one may leave until the police have come to the scene. If you fail to adhere to these rules, you could be found and later ticketed. As a traffic ticket lawyer might discuss with you, leaving the scene of an accident has many definitions. Here are a few examples:
- You ran into another vehicle and drove off.
- You collided with an unoccupied vehicle and did not try locating the driver of the car.
- You hit a person, such as a pedestrian or cyclist, and left.
- You were unable to find the driver of an unoccupied vehicle and did not leave your contact details on their car.
- You hit someone’s property and left the scene.
Typically, it is advisable to call the police after an accident. They will talk with you about what happened and let you know if they will come to the scene. If they are heading to the site of the accident, you must wait for them to arrive. Some places, such as private property and parking lots, may not be under police jurisdiction; therefore, they may not come to these accident scenes. If you do nothing except leave the scene, you could be found and summoned to court. Experienced traffic ticket lawyers know many clients who were found through surveillance cameras, witnesses, dash cam footage, and other identification methods.
Potential Consequences of Leaving the Scene
If you are caught leaving the scene of an accident and have been ticketed, you may face:
- A fine up to $5,000
- A surcharge for leaving the scene
- Jail or prison time (when mitigating factors are included)
- A criminal record, in some cases
- A suspension of your driver’s license (or revocation in some cases)
- Points on your license
- Increase of insurance premium
Can You Ever Leave the Scene?
As a traffic ticket lawyer might explain to you, there are special provisions that give a person the right to leave the scene of an accident before they have exchanged information and without waiting for police. These scenarios include:
- You need immediate medical care
- There is a clear and present danger
- You are unable to get a phone signal and are driving to the nearest place that has one
If the above applies to you, it is a good idea to call the police to notify them of the accident and that you have left the scene. If you are facing consequences for leaving the scene of an accident, call a traffic ticket lawyer today.