Leaving the Scene of an Accident Can Result in Criminal Charges
The fight or flight response is a natural physiological process in our bodies that kicks in when we experience something that is frightening or stressful. The term “fight or flight” refers to the two options our ancestors had when faced with danger and the two options we often have when faced with danger today. Imagine you are driving and you completely miss the stop sign, driving out into the intersection and slamming into someone else who was also in the intersection. You have two choices: either get out of your vehicle and face the situation at hand or remain in your vehicle and drive away as fast as you can. Legally, you are required to do the former, as fleeing the scene of an accident can result in misdemeanor or even felony charges.
Leaving the Scene of a Property-Damage Only Accident
If you get into an accident that only damages the other driver’s vehicle, you are still required by law to stop. When you stop, you must exchange information with the other driver, such as your name, address, vehicle registration number and insurance information. You are not permitted to leave the scene of the accident without providing this information, though you are permitted to move your vehicle out of traffic or to a safe place that is away from the accident site, as long as you still exchange information.
If you fail to do so, you face a Class A misdemeanor charge , which can result in penalties such as up to one year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. If the damage to the other person’s vehicle was valued at more than $1,000, then such information will be sent to the Secretary of State’s Office, which will then suspend your driver’s license.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Death or Bodily Injury
If you are convicted of fleeing the scene of an accident that involved the death or bodily injury of another, you can face even more serious charges. You are required by law to immediately stop and exchange information and/or provide reasonable assistance to the other driver. If the other driver is seriously injured or dead, you should call 911. Even if you do not call for emergency services, you will still be required to report the accident to police and provide your information within 30 minutes of the accident or within 30 minutes of leaving the hospital after receiving medical treatment for your own injuries.
Fleeing from the scene of an accident involving death or bodily injury is a Class 4 felony, meaning you could face one to three years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. If you do not report the accident to police, you could face a Class 2 felony charge -- which can mean three to seven years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines -- if the accident did not result in the death of another. If it did and you did not report the accident, you could face a Class 1 felony charge, which can result in four to 15 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. If you are convicted for any of these felony charges, the Secretary of State’s office will revoke your driving privileges.
A Joliet, IL Traffic Violation Defense Attorney Can Help
When you are in an accident and faced with that fight or flight response, it is important that you do not choose flight. Unfortunately, we do not always have control over our instincts. If you have been charged with fleeing the scene of an accident, it is crucial that you contact a Will County traffic violation defense lawyer right away. At the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C., we will work to keep you from a conviction if at all possible. Call our office today at 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation.