Two recent news stories put an interesting twist on the issue of people who left the scene of a car accident. Everyone knows leaving the scene of a car accident, especially when someone suffers a serious personal injury, is a big no-no. But do you know the penalties? Do you know what your legal duties are if you cause a car accident?
In one story, a man who caused a car accident told police he fled the scene because his girlfriend was yelling at him. He did cause an injury, which makes his crime much worse. I’m pretty sure I don’t have to tell you this is not a legal excuse for fleeing the scene of an accident. In fact, somebody had to leak this one to the press because they were laughing at him.
In another story from this weekend, a Prince George’s County Police Officer fled the scene of an accident in Washington DC. His accident did not cause personal injury to anyone, but he was placed on administrative leave and will likely be fired. Leaving the scene of a car accident is a serious crime and you simply cannot do that if you are, yourself, a police officer.
Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious crime in Maryland. There are three possible penalties, depending on whether your car accident caused personal injury or death.
- If you only caused property damage, you could face 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. You could also get 8 points on your license, which will cause it to be suspended.
- If you caused a personal injury in the car accident, you will be treated more harshly by the courts. If someone is injured, you could face up to a year in jail and a $3000 fine. You could also get 12 points on your license, which will cause your license to be revoked.
- If someone dies in the accident, you could face 5 years in prison and a $5000 fine. You could also get 12 points on your license, causing it to be revoked. Five years in prison is no joke. You can see how serious the state takes hit and run crimes where there has been a car accident that causes death.
So, what are your duties if you cause a car accident?
- You must stop your vehicle immediately, or as soon as it is safe to do so.
- You must provide reasonable assistance to anyone injured in the accident. At the very least, this involves calling 911. Follow their instructions if someone is injured.
- You must provide your contact information, including name, address, and phone number. You do have to let the other driver or police inspect your driver’s license.
- You must provide your vehicle registration number.
- You must provide your car insurance information.
If you cause an accident to an unattended vehicle, you have to leave a note with this information. If you do not, you are guilty of a hit and run and will be charged with a crime when found.
If you are ever charged with the serious crime of leaving the scene of an accident, you should call an attorney immediately. This is not a criminal charge you should take lightly.