Driving itself gets stressful in high traffic. However cautious you are on the road, some things are not under your control. There might be situations when you intentionally or not break a law or two laid out by your state, which always comes with consequences. God forbid, but what happens if you get involved in a crash and flee the spot? Irrespective of the severity, you may get charged for a hit-and-run case. Read on and learn about the penalties for hit-and-run in the U.S.
The traffic laws vary for each state in the U.S. Depending on your state and the severity of the crash, penalties and consequences will also differ.
What Is Hit-and-Run?
A hit-and-run is when a vehicle hits another vehicle or person and flees the spot without stopping. However, the rules differ in each jurisdiction. Generally, property damage, personnel injury, or loss of life in a collision and not stopping at the scene is considered a hit-and-run instance in most states.
Sometimes individuals causing the collision must be at the scene even if they did not hit the vehicle. For instance, while driving, you suddenly shift track without any indication, causing the vehicle behind you to apply a sudden break. Your action might have caused a series of collisions behind you, but you haven’t hit any vehicle per se.
What Are the Penalties for Hit-and-Run?
The penalties for hit-and-run will depend on your state law. Each state in the U.S. determines its traffic laws. However, penalties for hit-and-run with no injuries may considerably be less serious when compared to a major collision that has either personnel injury or loss of life.
The most common consequences of hit-and-run are:
- A misdemeanor or felony charges.
- Jail time.
- Driver’s license suspension.
- Points on driver’s license.
A police investigation is mandatory if the collision involves loss of life or injury. If you are convicted, the prosecution may press criminal charges, and you may face severe penalties. It is a crime to flee the scene when your state law requires you to stay put until a law enforcement officer arrives and collects all necessary information.
What Are Hit-and-Run Laws?
The hit-and-run law says that if any driver hits a vehicle, person, bicycle, or property and leaves the scene before providing contact details, they shall be charged under the hit-and-run law. You must stay at the accident scene even if you are not at fault.
Irrespective of your state, no driver involved in a collision is allowed to leave the scene. This will allow all parties in the accident to claim insurance and provide accurate details for further police investigation if required.
Another reason the hit-and-run is in place is to ensure that drivers involved in the crash check the well-being of the members in the crash. If there is an injury or medical emergency, the drivers can immediately call the police and medical team for help. Timely medical care may save someone’s life.
In some instances, a driver may flee the accident spot to avoid a DUI charge but remember, whatever the case be, if you have fled the scene after a collision, it will always be a hit-and-run case. It is better to own up to your mistake because a hit-and-run case will ruin your driving record, insurance rates, and criminal record. Legal help from an experienced lawyer is better if the accident is serious.
What to Do If You Are Involved in a Hit-and-Run Accident?
Nobody prepares to be in an accident. So, if involved in a hit-and-run accident, ensure that you clearly understand your rights. You can get involved in a hit-and-run accident in only two ways. Either you are the victim or the one who fled the spot.
When involved as a victim, if the other driver has fled the accident scene,
- You must first call the police and report the accident.
- Ask the witnesses, if any, to talk to the police and provide their contact details.
- Inform your insurer.
- Co-operate in the investigation.
If the other party involved in the crash is not found, you can claim the uninsured motorists with your insurance company.
When leaving an accident spot without stopping for the officials to arrive, beware that you can get charged for a hit-and-run. You can return to the site only if it’s been a little while or report to the police directly. Returning or reporting may help reduce the charges.
Failure to report the accident will get you charged with a hit-and-run. It is best to get help from an experienced criminal lawyer. A misdemeanor or felony depends on the accident’s severity and your home state’s law.
Does Hit-and-Run Affect Auto Insurance?
Hit-and-runs are a major driver’s license violation. Heavy penalties, license revocation, and jail time are possible depending on the state and severity of the crime. It also affects your car insurance.
When found guilty of a hit-and-run, your insurer may even withdraw your policy. In case your insurer continues its services, the rates will skyrocket from a few hundred to hundreds or thousands,
If you’re the victim, your insurance shouldn’t change. But without hit-and-run coverage, you may have to pay for repairs. Once identified guilty, some drivers sue hit-and-run drivers for bodily injury.
What are the charges for a hit-and-run?
The charges for a hit-and-run vary from state to state. Depending on your state and the accident’s severity, it would be considered a misdemeanor or felony. The common consequence of a hit-and-run is a fine, driver’s license suspension, jail time, points on your license and criminal charges.
Is it illegal to leave the accident scene?
After a collision or accident, regardless of state law, it is mandatory to stay back at the accident scene until a law enforcement officer arrives and collects all necessary details. You must provide the following:
- Identity proof.
- Contact info.
- Car registration.
- Insurance proof.
- Additional paperwork.
If you leave the accident scene without providing the necessary information, you’ll get charged for hit-and-run. Even if you strike an unattended or stationary car, you must still submit your contact information. Leave a note in a visible area on the damaged property and try to contact the owner. You may need to report the accident to the police.
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