I Hit a Vehicle and Fled the Scene. What’s Going to Happen?
When a driver of a vehicle leaves the scene of an auto accident without stopping and sharing driver information with the other party or offering proper assistance when the accident involves death or injury, this is referred to as abandoning the scene of an accident. Even if the car leaving the scene was not at fault and there was no damage or casualties, a driver is required to come to a complete stop whenever an accident occurs. This is the law in the majority of states, including California. Leaving the scene of an accident (Hit and Run) is a misdemeanor or a crime in California.
When you are involved in a car collision (with a person, another car, or a fixed object), you must leave the area without identifying yourself or assisting anyone who may require aid. In most countries, it doesn't matter if you were at fault for the car accident. The act is done simply by leaving the scene. Most states do not consider it a hit-and-run if you leave the scene of an accident to get emergency help, such as leaving a rural cell phone "dead zone" to get a signal.
When a person escapes the scene of an accident, the protocol that follows is normally followed. Law enforcement agents arrive first and may conduct an investigation. If there were any witnesses present, police officers may ask them about what they observed. Any nearby surveillance film, such as traffic signal cameras or cameras for neighborhood businesses, may also be investigated by law enforcement. In order to narrow down the type of car involved in the accident for more in-depth investigations, law enforcement officers may test the paint on the victim's vehicle at the time of the incident. Police officers may also investigate whether the accident was caused by alcohol or drugs. If the evidence presented assists law enforcement in identifying the fleeing driver, they may travel to his or her home or place of business to locate him or her.
A hit-and-legal run's ramifications vary by state. A hit-and-run can constitute either a crime or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. Leaving the site of an accident involving any type of injury to a person, whether the injured person is a pedestrian or a vehicle occupant, is often defined as a felony hit and run in most states.
A felony hit-and-run can have serious penalties. In most states, fines vary from $5,000 to $20,000. And incarceration as a result of a felony hit-and-run is a very real prospect. Depending on the nature of the incident and the injuries sustained, a felony hit and run can result in up to 15 years in prison in some jurisdictions.
It's important to remember that a hit-and-run might be charged as a misdemeanor instead than a felony. While the term "misdemeanor" may appear harmless to some, misdemeanors in most states are punishable by a large fine of up to $5,000 and up to a year in prison.
Aside from the criminal repercussions of hit-and-run, almost every state has administrative fines that affect your driver's license. The Department of Motor Vehicles in each state regularly enforces these fines.
A felony or misdemeanor hit-and-run conviction normally results in a six-month suspension or revocation of your driver's license. In rare cases, the revocation period can be up to three years. Depending on the state where you live and the type and circumstances of the car accident in which you were involved, the penalty for hit and run may include a lifetime loss of your driver's license. These administrative fines are in addition to any possible criminal sanctions for hit-and-run.