Hit and run charges, also known as leaving the scene of an accident, can occur when you fail to stop after getting into a car accident. It seems like a lot of these cases have been in the news lately and some of them are pretty egregious -- like the woman who hit a pedestrian and drove all the way home with his body lodged in her windshield. A hit and run charge may be the least of a defendant's worries when something like that happens, but leaving the scene of an accident in Arizona will result in criminal charges that are serious to anyone with a clean record.
Almost any time you get into a car accident in Arizona, even if it's with an unoccupied vehicle, you are legally required to to stop and provide certain information. If you can't stop immediately, you are required to return to the scene of the accident as soon as possible. If you don't, you can be charged with a crime. This obligation applies whether you caused the accident or not.
Arizona has a few different types of hit and run charges, ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. Most of the time, Arizona prosecutors take this charge very seriously because they assume that a person who leaves the scene is leaving because they are driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. The seriousness of the charge generally depends on the seriousness of the accident.
Duty to Provide Information And Assistance
When you are involved in a car accident, you must do the following:
- Provide the other driver or the police with your name, address, and registration
- Show your driver's license upon request
- Assist the other driver if they are injured by administering first aid or obtaining help
If you collide with an unoccupied car, you must leave your information on the car. If you fail to stop after an accident, you can be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 120 days in jail. Your license can also be suspended for one year. A failure to provide your information or show your driver's license after an accident can result in a class 3 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 30 days in jail.
Felony Hit And Run Charges
If you fail to provide assistance after an accident to someone in the other car who has an apparent injury, you can be charged with a class 6 felony. A class 6 felony is punishable by up to 2 years in prison. If someone was injured, but not seriously injured, you can be charged with a class 5 felony.
Things get even more serious when the accident results in a serious injury or death. If the accident caused a serious physical injury or a death, you can be charged with a class 3 felony, punishable by up to 8.75 years in prison. If you caused the accident, you can be charged with a class 2 felony, punishable by up to 12.5 years in prison. Your driver's license can also be revoked for up to 10 years after you have been released from prison.
On top of all this, the sentence for a felony hit and run charge must generally be consecutive to, or on top of the sentence for any other criminal charge related to the accident. Hit and run charges in Arizona can obviously have very serious consequences. If you have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident, whether or not you are also facing other charges, you need the best legal representation you can get.
* This blog is published by Tucson DUI and criminal defense lawyer Nathan D. Leonardo. Nothing on this website is intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided herein does not constitute legal advice, but is for general information purposes only. If you have a legal question, you can contact us online or call (520) 314-4125.