A car accident can happen in an instant, often surprising the driver and injuring the victim. When drivers are stunned, scared, or unwilling to take responsibility for the crash, they may leave the crash scene. This is known as a hit and run. If you are convicted of leaving the scene, failing to assist accident victims, or failing to provide necessary personal identification, you may face time in prison and a significant fine.
Virginia Hit-and-Run Crimes
Before preparing your defense after being charged in a hit-and-run accident, you need to understand the law you’ve been accused of breaking. The Virginia Code describes the responsibilities of both drivers and passengers in Sections 46.2-894 through 46.2-897. According to Virginia law, drivers have the following responsibilities:
- Drivers involved in accidents must stop as close to the scene of the crash as possible without obstructing traffic.
- Drivers must report their name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number to the police and to other drivers and passengers involved in the crash.
- Drivers must provide reasonable assistance to anyone hurt in the crash. This may include taking an injured person to the hospital, if necessary.
- Drivers who are involved in crashes with unattended vehicles (or other property) must make reasonable efforts to find the property owner and report their name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number to the property owner. If the owner can’t be found, the driver must leave a note with this information in an obvious place for the owner to find and must report the accident in writing to the police within 24 hours. If, however, the driver is hurt, he must make the required report to the police as soon as reasonably possible.
Additionally, Virginia law requires passengers who are at least 16 years old to report the accident to the police within 24 hours if the driver failed to stop and make the report at the accident scene.
The Legal Consequences of a Virginia Hit and Run
A driver who does not stop at the accident scene, who does not provide the required information to the police or accident victims, or who does not provide reasonable assistance to people injured in the crash may face a Class 5 felony charge if the accident resulted in an injury, fatality, or property damage of more than $1,000. If you are convicted of a Class 5 felony, you may face:
- Up to 10 years in prison
- A fine of up to $2,500
If the driver violated the law, but there were no injuries, no fatalities, and property damage of $1,000 or less, the driver may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor and could be sentenced to:
- Up to one year in prison
- A fine of up to $2,500
Additionally, drivers and passengers who do not report accidents with unattended vehicles or other property that result in minimal property damage could face a Class 4 misdemeanor charge and a potential sentence of demerit points on a driver’s license and a fine of up to $250.
Your Hit and Run Legal Defense
When you’re charged with a hit-and-run crime, it doesn’t mean you’ll be convicted. Our criminal defense lawyers will develop a clear and realistic plan for your defense and stay in regular contact with you throughout the legal process. To learn more, please call us, or reach out via this website today for information you need to make informed decisions about your hit-and-run defense.