There are criminal penalties for hit and run accidents in Virginia. This type of serious crime usually occurs when a person fails to stop at the scene of an accident, offer help, and provide identification.
If you have been charged with leaving the scene of the accident, it is important to know how the Commonwealth defines a hit and run, what criminal consequences you face, and how an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you.
Virginia Hit and Run Statutes
Both drivers and passengers involved in a car accident have a duty to remain at the scene. However, these duties are described in different statutes. Specifically, according to Virginia Code 46.2-894, a driver who hits a car with someone else in it:
- Shall stop as close to the accident scene as possible (without obstructing traffic) if someone was hurt or killed or if there was property damage
- Shall provide his name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number to the police, to the person who was injured if that person appears capable of understanding and retaining the information, or to another driver or passenger in the vehicle
- Shall provide reasonable assistance to anyone who was hurt in the accident. This includes taking the person to the doctor or hospital if it is necessary or requested by the injured person
Virginia Code 46.2-896 outlines what a driver must do if the driver hits an unattended vehicle and causes property damage. In this type of accident, the driver:
- Shall make a reasonable effort to find the owner or custodian of the property and shall report his name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number to the owner or custodian of the property
- Shall leave a note with the driver’s identification and contact information in an obvious place at the scene of the accident and shall report the accident to the police within 24 hours if the owner or custodian of the property could not be found
If the driver’s own injuries prevent him from reporting the required information in an accident that results in injury, death or property damage, he should make the report to the police as soon as reasonably possible.
The responsibility of passengers is described in Virginia Codes 46.2-895 and 46.2-897. Passengers who are 16 or older and who have knowledge of the accident shall report the accident to the police within 24 hours if the driver failed to stop and make the required report at the scene of the crash.
The Consequences of a Virginia Hit and Run Conviction
The criminal consequences for a hit and run accident may include a variety of penalties, including:
- A driver who fails to stop and take the required actions may be guilty of a Class 5 felony if someone else was injured or killed in the accident or if the accident resulted in more than $1,000 in property damage. A Class 5 felony can result in a prison term of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $2,500.
- A driver or passenger who fails to stop and take the required actions may be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if no one was hurt or killed and the property damage was less than $1,000. A Class 1 misdemeanor can result in a prison term of up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500.
- A driver or passenger who is involved in a hit and run crash with an unattended vehicle with property damage of less than $250 may be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. A Class 4 misdemeanor can result in three demerit points on the driver’s record and a fine of not more than $250.
Contact a Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyer
In order to avoid criminal penalties, it is important to contact an experienced Virginia hit and run defense lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. We can investigate what happened to you and fight hard to make sure you are not unfairly penalized for a crime you were not responsible for. Call us today for a free consultation.