Four Things Every Driver Needs To Know About Hit and Run Accidents
By definition, a car accident turns into a hit and run offense when the driver responsible intentionally leaves the scene of the accident without providing any information to the victims, bystanders, or police officers (or if the driver is the only person involved in the accident, but fails to report the accident to authorities). It’s a complicated law by nature, but the complications don’t end there…
- Hit and run laws vary from state to state, and both the charges and punishments for hit and run traffic violations depend largely on the circumstances surrounding the crash. Sometimes these are misdemeanor traffic offenses, and sometimes they’re felonies.
- Most people are familiar with hit and run offenses when another driver dents their parked car and fails to leave a note with contact information, or when another driver bumps into them at a traffic light/ stop sign, and simply drives away without stopping to make sure that everything is okay. Technically, it’s possible for the offending driver to get away without being charged — but on the off-chance that bystanders or traffic cameras are able to provide evidence of the accident and identifying details of the offender, that driver will likely be charged for the accident and for a hit and run offense.
- According to research conducted by the American Automobile Association, it’s estimated that at least 11% (i.e., one out of every 10) car accidents involve drivers who flee the scene, and unlicensed drivers are about 66% more likely to flee the scene of an accident than a licensed driver is (for obvious reasons). Of course, if unlicensed drivers end up getting caught, the punishments will be pretty severe.
- And speaking of punishments — as stated before, the consequences of a hit and run ticket are mostly based on circumstances (e.g., if the driver caused harm to another person, if those injuries were fatal, or if there was damage to another person’s property). Generally, someone convicted of a hit and run offense can expect a heavy fine, a few points on his/her driver’s license, possible suspension of the driver’s license, and either jail time (anywhere from a few months to a year) or a few years in prison (for more serious cases).
In summation, it’s definitely better to stay at the scene of an accident (or report it to authorities) and accept responsibility, rather than attempting to flee. But if you find yourself being charged with a hit and run violation, it’s definitely something that needs to be handled by a professional — because if you’re convicted of the crime, the consequences could last a lifetime.
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