They call it an accident for a reason. Nevertheless, if you are behind the wheel in a motor vehicle collision, you have clear obligations. It might be that you were traveling on Morris Avenue or Broad Street. It might not have even been your fault when you hit another car. Understandably, you become confused and afraid. You feel responsible and don’t know what to do. Perhaos you are concerned because you had a few drinks and are worried about drunk driving charges.
You panic and react by quickly driving away. However, knowingly leaving the scene of the accident could mean you’re in big trouble. After all, you have no way of knowing if the crash resulted in someone else suffering severe injuries or even a fatality.. What happens if you’re caught?
Responsibilities Under the Law
People might leave the scene of an acc for reasons that include panic, fear, driving while intoxicated, an extensive criminal record, or not having a valid driver’s license. These do not justify leaving the scene.
According to NJSA 39:4-129, if you are involved in an automobile accident you are required to remain at the scene if there is property damage, injuries, or a fatality. Truth be told, running away could stop you from determining if any of these things come into play.
Although it may be after the fact, you should know what the law expects you to do when involved in a motor vehicle crash. You must exchange identifying information with other parties involved in the accident and if there is a police officer at the scene. Call 911 if anybody needs medical attention. If injury, death, or more than $500 worth of property damaged occurred, you need to file an official police report.
The Penalties for Leaving the Scene
Without question,, a hit-and-run accident is less serious when it is limited to property damage, and considered worse if it involves injury or death. If a crash only results in vehicle damage and is the first offense, the penalties range from fines between $200 to $400, up to one month in jail, and a driver’s license suspension of up to six months.
For a second offense, an individual can face a fine of $400 to $600, a jail sentence of one to three months, and a driver’s license for up to one year.
If the accident resulted in injury or death and is a first-time offense, a person can face fines ranging from $2,500 to $5,000, be imprisoned for up to 180 days, and have their driver’s license suspended for up to one year. A second offense will result in a lifetime suspension.
If convicted of leaving the scene of an injury accident, a person will get 8 points on their New Jersey driving record. Meanwhile, accumulating 12 or more points in a specified time period results in suspension.
If you are in an accident that involved leaving the scene, you should consider hiring an experienced traffic violation attorney. The Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo can help you through the legal process, answer your questions, and work to have the charges reduced.