Criminal Law Blog: What NOT to do After a Car Accident
Just this week, this criminal defense attorney had a personal experience with this issue and a family member. Just as I was leaving court one morning, I got a frantic call from a family member stating that she had hit a parked car in the parking lot of her doctor’s office and didn’t know what to do, but was contemplating leaving the scene!
This is exactly what you should not do in such a situation. While police officers in some cities are now declining to do crash reports on private properties, it is nonetheless still the responsibility of the driver who hit another vehicle to locate the driver of the vehicle who was hit to exchange important insurance information. To fail to do so is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by 93 days in jail! This charge applies even if someone may leave the scene of an accident and then later return. The statute requires you to report an accident forthwith, meaning immediately. If you cannot locate the other driver or it’s impossible to do so based on current circumstances, as a last resort, you should leave pertinent information securely on the other vehicle’s windshield. Be mindful oftentimes there may be cameras in parking lots documenting what took place.
Should an accident occur on the roadway, leaving the scene could be even more detrimental for your criminal liability. This is because officers and prosecutors may assume that you were intoxicated at the time of driving, which led you to flee the scene out of fear. Don’t box yourself into these assumptions. If you’re in accident, remain on the scene until you can locate the proper authorities or the other driver if the car is parked.
If you have questions about this topic or any other criminal matter, call us today to schedule your free consultation! Drive safely!