What happens if you flee the scene of an auto accident
It may be your first instinct to flee the scene of an auto accident. It might be your license was suspended or you may have had a few drinks. Perhaps you forgot to renew your registration or automobile insurance. There are consequences for leaving the scene of an accident. If you have already taken the risk, it is important to secure legal advice.
The Law Regarding Staying at the Accident Scene
It may have been a long time since you attended driver’s education classes. However, just about everyone remembers that drivers are expected to follow certain protocol regarding auto accidents. The statute governing actions following accidents is found at N.J.S.A. 39:4-129. Fleeing the scene of an accident is not considered a minor offense. The most serious penalties are mandated for those who cause significant personal injury or property damage.
What about if you are involved in a one car motor vehicle accident? The law requires you to remain or return to the scene of the accident to verify that it is a one car accident. If property damage is involved to property such as a telephone pole, it is important that you notify the police. If your car has hit another parked vehicle, you are expected to leave a note with your contact information. It is your obligation to make a police report documenting all damages.
If more than one person has been involved in a motor vehicle crash, the driver has other duties. These include:
- Providing identification and insurance information to the other driver(s), passengers and law enforcement
- Acting in a reasonable fashion to ensure medical assistance is provided to other parties. This could be as simple as calling for the police or emergency services
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident
In New Jersey, it is considered a serious offense to leave an accident scene. The penalties associated with this action can result in criminal or civil penalties. For example, consider the following:
- If your accident involves only damage to a vehicle, including your car and you fail to stop at the accident scene, you can expect a minimal fine of $200. The fine can rise to as high as $400. In addition, the statute allows for the judge to sentence you to jail for not up to thirty days for just a first offense. Of course, there are also motor vehicle points associated with leaving the scene of an accident. Additionally, you can lose your license for up to six months.
- If you flee the scene of an accident where someone was severely injured or died, the penalties are even more severe. Fines can be as high as $5000. Imprisonment for this offense can be as long as 180 days.
If you are accused of leaving the scene of an accident, the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone would like to discuss your legal options. We have many years of experience representing individuals charged with this offense. Contact us for an appointment.