Can I Be Criminally Charged for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Pennsylvania?
In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, fear, panic, and disorienting sensations may impair your judgment and rationality. You might feel that your most attractive option, in those circumstances, is to flee the situation or continue on your way. But doing so could have serious legal and financial consequences.
Leaving the scene of an accident in Pennsylvania, commonly called “hit and run,” is a criminal offense and is a serious matter that should be thoughtfully considered. If you have been accused of leaving the scene of an accident, you may be at risk of facing incarceration, probation, fines, payment of restitution to the other party (regardless of fault for the accident), and a suspension of your license.
Pennsylvania law provides that, if you are involved in an automobile accident resulting in injury or death of a person, you must immediately stop and safely park at, or close by, the accident scene, and give information that includes your name, address and the registration number of the vehicle you are driving, and, upon request, showing your driver’s license and liability insurance information to any person injured in the accident.
If none of the injured parties are able to receive this information, you are required by law to report the accident to the nearest office of a duly authorized police department. You are also required to render reasonable assistance to any person injured in the accident, including arranging for their transportation to a physician or hospital for medical or surgical treatment, if it is apparent that treatment is necessary or if requested by the injured person. Failure to render assistance in this situation can result in a misdemeanor of the first degree or a felony of the third degree, depending on the circumstances.
If you are the driver of a vehicle, and you are involved in an accident where there might be damage to another vehicle or to personal property, you must immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident, or as close thereto as possible, and give your name, address, vehicle registration number, and proof of insurance to the other driver. If there is nobody at the scene of the accident, you are required to attach securely and conspicuously in or on the damaged vehicle or other property a written notice giving your name, address, and insurance information and the registration number of the vehicle being driven and immediately notify the police department.
In Pennsylvania, the following summary or criminal charges and penalties may apply for:
Leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage to an unattended vehicle: When drivers fail to leave the required information during a hit and run to an unoccupied vehicle, it is punishable as a summary offense punishable by up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $300.
Leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage to an unattended vehicle: When the vehicle is occupied, it is punishable as a third-degree misdemeanor with penalties that include up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,500.
Leaving the scene of an accident involving injuries to another driver or passenger: If another person suffers injuries in the accident, it is considered a first-degree misdemeanor for which the penalties include up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,500.
Leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury to another driver: If the hit and run causes serious bodily injury to anyone involved, it is punishable as a third-degree felony requiring a minimum of 90 days imprisonment and a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000.
Leaving the scene of an accident involving death to another driver or passenger: Leaving the scene of an accident that caused death to another is considered a second-degree felony punishable by at least three years in detention and a minimum fine of $2,500.
If you are facing charges for leaving the scene of an accident in Pennsylvania, your freedom and future may be at risk if you do not act swiftly. Contact the criminal defense lawyers at Tanner Law Offices. Our team of skilled professionals is prepared to defend you through this challenging time and ensure your rights are fully protected. Please contact our office at 717-731-8114 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.