Like most traffic violations, hit and run offenses can be either felonies or misdemeanor traffic offenses, and the charge faced by drivers depends on a few important details surrounding the accident:
- First of all, a hit and run offense means that a driver involved in a car accident left the scene without providing any identifying information or making any reports. These charges are automatically considered misdemeanor traffic offenses. When there’s minor property damage involved (usually to someone else’s car), the violation will still be considered a misdemeanor offense, although the charge could be raised to a higher degree if the driver convicted has been charged with traffic violations in the past, or if the property damage was very severe.
- When there’s serious personal injury to another person, the charge can be kept as a misdemeanor, or can be raised to a felony. The charge in this case is usually dependent on how severe the personal injuries were, but it’s possible that other factors can be considered — for example, if the driver has a history of poor driving, or if he/she committed other traffic violations during the accident.
- If the injuries are life-threatening or fatal, the charge will almost always be considered a felony. In addition to thousands of dollars worth of fines and a possible license suspension, felony hit and run offenses of this nature usually involve mandatory prison time.
Many people leave car accident scenes without even really thinking about it — wither the accident was so minor that the driver didn’t realize he/she was involved in it at all, or it was so severe that the driver panicked and ran away to find help. (That being said, quite a few people receive hit and run tickets because they knew about the accident and they chose to leave, hoping to get away without a ticket).
In nearly every case, the consequences of a hit and run violation are much more serous than simply taking responsibility for the accident. And if you do find yourself facing one of these charges, it’s best to address the charge head on and get some professional help with it. To learn more, read this.