Leaving the Scene of a Car Accident in California & Its Implications

Car accidents are unfortunate and sometimes unavoidable. But the worst thing that you can do is leave the scene of a car accident without exchanging your information with the other party. It is a criminal offense and is also known as a hit-and-run case.

If you find yourself in a car accident in California, New York, or Florida, it is not a wise decision to leave the scene of the accident even if you are not at fault. It is a grave crime that can lead to a hefty fine and in severe cases, jail time as well.

Taking about California, hit and run cases can be a felony or misdemeanor depending on the situation. If the accident led to damage to property, it will be a misdemeanor hit and run. On the other hand, injuries or death that occur in an accident will be a felony hit and run.

Accidents Involving Property Damage:

California has the highest fatal crashes in the entire US. The year 2019 saw approximately 3,316 fatal crashes just in California. With so many accidents happening, you need to be aware of the steps you need to take in case of a car accident in California.

The California Vehicle Code section 20002 (misdemeanor abandoning the site of an accident containing property damage) mandates drivers to take the following steps:

  • Remain at the scene of the accident.
  • Provide your personal information to the person or the owner of the property. If you are not the car’s owner, then give their name, contact details, and address to the property’s owner.
  • Give your license and vehicle registration information to the other party.
  • If the property that you hit is a car with no driver or is a parking meter, stop sign, etc., then you need to leave your personal information on the site as well as the complete note about the scenarios involving the accident.
  • In addition, the driver also has to inform the California Highway Patrol and file a police report in the nearest police station.

Cases Involving Injury or Death:

In an unfortunate scenario of an injury or death, the driver needs to stay at the scene of the car accident in California. They need to take relevant action as per the law. California Vehicle Code section 20001 contains the felony hit and run legislation for death or injury, which mandates drivers to perform the following functions:

  • Stay at the scene of the car accident in California.
  • Give their personal information, vehicle registration number, and license to the other party or any law enforcement officer over there. If the driver is not the owner of the car, they have to give the name, contact details, and the address of the owner.
  • Help the other person by assisting them by calling an ambulance or first aid.
  • Inform the nearest police station about the accident within a day of the car accident in California. You can also inform the California Highway Patrol about it.

What is the Punishment for Leaving the Site of a Car Accident in California?

The California state has penalties and punishments for the person at mistake in a hit-and-run case. If the case involves property damage, it will be a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor such as leaving an accident site in California holds up for the following punishments:

  • Could land you in county jail for six months
  • Penalties and fines up to $1,000
  • Put you on informal probation for three years
  • Restitution of the damages to the other party

In case a car accident in California involves an injury or death, the law classifies such a case as a “wobbler.” It indicates that the defendant can face charges for a felony offense or a misdemeanor on the subject of the seriousness of the injury. The criminal record of the defendant will also play a pivotal role in it.

The offense has serious punishment such as:

  • Could land you in county jail for 12 months in case of a misdemeanor and 16 months to 36 months in state prison in case of a felony
  • Penalties and fines from $1000 to $10,000
  • Put you on informal probation for three years
  • Restitution of the damages to the other party.

In California, a hit-and-run conviction puts two points to your driving history. As a result, you can expect an increase in insurance premiums and, if you have additional vehicle code infractions, it could lead to a license suspension as well.

In addition, as per the California Vehicle Code section 13350, the defendant can also face license suspension for 12 months in case of misdemeanor and a felony conviction for a hit and run case involving a death or injury.

Contact Crockett Law Group Today:

If you find yourself amidst a car accident in California, it is a wise decision to contact a reputable attorney to guide you throughout the case. With Crockett Law Group, you can find exceptional services that will help steer your case in the right direction. Give us a call to discuss your case and to learn more about our services.

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