Leaving the Scene of a Personal Injury Accident Without Reporting
Leaving the scene of an accident in which another person is injured without reporting the accident to the police is a crime punishable by jail and fines.
The New York State Legislature set forth that any person who operates a vehicle knowing or having reason to know that personal injury has been caused to another person . . . due to an incident involving a motor vehicle operated by such person shall, before leaving the place where the personal injury occurred, stop and show his driver’s license and insurance identification card.
The above information must be given to the injured party, if practical, and also to a police officer, or in the event that no police officer is nearby, then the person must report the incident as soon as he is physically able to do so to the nearest police station or Judge.
The seriousness of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident without reporting (and the punishment) vary depending on certain factors. If the violation for leaving the scene of an accident consists of merely failing to provide the person’s license and insurance card as a first offense, then the offense is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by:
- Up to ninety (90) days in jail; and
- A $250 to $500 fine; and
- Four (4) points on the New York State driver’s license.
Any subsequent violation by the same driver is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by:
- Up to one (1) year in jail; and
- A $500 to $100 fine; and
- Six (6) points on the New York State driver’s license.
If the person has previously been convicted of a driving while leaving the scene related crime, any subsequent violation is a Class E felony.
Moreover, if the injury to the other person is a “Serious Physical Injury” the offense is a Class E Felony with much stiffer penalties:
The crime of driving while leaving the scene of an accident requires knowledge on the part of the driver that personal injury has actually been caused to the other person or damage has been caused to the property.
A sentence for leaving the scene of a personal injury accident can be imposed consecutively to a sentence for a crime related to a vehicular assault/vehicular manslaughter accident.
This is important to be aware of because courts typically treat leaving the scene related crimes harshly and often tack on additional time for leaving the scene of an accident, in addition to the actual injuries which were caused in the accident. The courts sometimes tack on additional time for leaving the scene of an accident because they suspect the driver left the scene because they were intoxicated.
In 1986 the New York State Court held that a person need not remain at the scene of a motor vehicle accident if that person reasonably believed a belligerent crowd may cause him harm based upon the bodily injuries which he inflicted on another.
A person will be charged with leaving the scene of a personal injury accident where injury to another person occurs even if the motorist can later be shown to not be at fault. Therefore, motorists must remain at the scene where personal injury is caused to another even if the accident is not the driver’s fault.
A person must be given a reasonable time within which to report the accident. Prior courts have held that delays of two and a half hours in reporting an accident, for example, do not rise to a violation of this statute if a valid reason exists for not reporting the accident more quickly.
A person may be convicted of leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident regardless of their mental state. Accordingly, it does not need to be proven by the District Attorney’s Office or police that the person left the scene of an accident in order to evade prosecution.
A person may evade prosecution for leaving the scene of a personal injury accident if the criminal complaint is defective on its face. The criminal complaint must allege that the defendant saw the injury to the other person and knew or had reason to know that he had caused personal injury to another before leaving the scene.
If you have been charged with leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, please contact Stewart A. McMillan immediately at (914) 358-4326 or on his 24 hour cell phone at (917) 538-5016 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.