Criminal Offense of Failure to Report an Accident
Most jurisdictions require a motorist to prepare and forward an accident report to the state’s department of motor vehicles whenever the motorist is involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in property damage or injury. But even before filing a report, the driver has an affirmative duty to stop, provide information, and give notice to the police. These statutes are commonly referred to as hit-and-run statutes. The information commonly required by the statutes includes the driver’s name and address, the registration number of the vehicle involved in the accident, and insurance information. In the event that no person is present or able to receive this information, the driver has an affirmative duty to report the accident to the police.
Whenever a motorist is involved in an automobile accident resulting in injury or death, the motorist must immediately stop his vehicle at or near the accident scene and remain there until he has fulfilled the statutory duty to give information, notify police, and render aid. Failure to do so is a felony if the victim suffers “serious” bodily injury or dies, punishable by one to five years in prison. The statutory duty to stop, notify police, and give information equally applies to accidents involving only damage to an attended vehicle or property. A motorist who fails to comply with these requirements faces criminal misdemeanor charges, imprisonment of up to twelve months, and a substantial fine. The stop-and-give information obligation exists regardless of who is at fault for the accident. In addition to criminal penalties, hit and run violators will be assessed a high number of points under the state’s system for driver education and control.
In situations where the collision involves an unattended vehicle or property, the laws require the motorist to attempt to locate the owner in order to provide the required information. If the owner cannot be located, the driver is directed to leave a written notice on the vehicle or property, disclosing the motorist’s name and address. The motorist is expected to follow-up by notifying the police of the accident. Violation of these provisions is usually considered a summary offense punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both. In addition, violators will be assessed points under the state’s system for driver education and control.
This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.
Attorney Advertising. This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.