Often people don’t realize their legal obligations; sometimes people panic at the thought of the legal consequences that may arise as a result of their accident. There are a number of reasons why people do not always stop at the scene of an accident. However, there is a complicated maze of laws surrounding hit and run accidents; if you’re not informed, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble with the law. The laws differ depending on whether or not the accident caused death, bodily harm, or vehicle damage, and whether or not the vehicle’s owner was there during the accident. Although it can get confusing quickly, we at Carey Law Office would like to clear up any questions you may have.
What If I hit a car but the owner wasn’t there?
If the car you hit was unattended, Maryland law states that you have to stop your car as soon as possible. At that point, you need to try to locate the owner and/or leave a note on the damaged car (somewhere clearly visible, of course) that contains your personal contact information.
What about accidents involving serious injury/death?
Fatal/serious accidents are a big deal, and they have a very specific protocol. According to Maryland law, you have to stop as close to the scene of the accident as you can, blocking the least amount of traffic as possible. Before you leave, it’s extremely important (well, it’s required) that you do a couple things:
First, render reasonable assistance to anyone injured and, if necessary, arrange transportation to a hospital. Additionally, you have a duty to give out certain information – you have to give your name, contact information, vehicle registration number, and show your license to everyone else involved in the accident (as well as the police at the scene). Lastly, if no one involved in the accident is in good enough condition to receive your information and the police are not there, do everything possible to help those harmed and then immediately report the accident to the nearest police station, giving as much information as you can.
What are the Penalties?
Hit and run cases should never be taken lightly. The State of Maryland considers it a serious offense; all offenses are misdemeanors that carry jail time, hefty fines, and heavy points. This number of points on your license can result in license suspension or revocation, lasting for two years from the violation date. Here are some specifics:
- Leaving the scene of an accident in which there is vehicle damage means you could get up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, and 8 points on your license (which could suspend your license).
- Leaving the scene of an accident in which someone was seriously injured means you could get up to 1 year in jail, a $3,000 fine, and 12 points on your license (which could revoke your license).
- Leaving the scene of an accident in which someone was killed means you could get up to 5 years in jail, a $5,000 fine, and 12 points on your license (which could revoke your license).
Having a criminal charge on your record can adversely affect your chances for job opportunities, result in much higher car insurance rates, and your penalty could actually be worse if charged with other offenses in addition to this one. For instance, leaving the scene of a fatal accident could land you with a vehicular manslaughter charge in addition to the hit and run charge; this would put you at a much higher risk of more jail time and a higher fine.
How to avoid it
These laws all follow the same basic guidelines: if you are involved in an accident, (whether or not it was your fault) do not leave the scene. This is the only foolproof way to avoid a hit and run charge. Regardless of the reason you may have left the scene of an accident, an aggressive attorney can provide skilled legal representation.
Need Legal Help?
If you have been charged with fleeing the scene of an accident, don’t take a chance; contact Carey Law Office, LLC at (301) 464-2500. We have been handling criminal citations such as this for over 30 years, and we have an excellent reputation for a reason. Call to schedule your free initial consultation today – we’ll get you through this.