Most drivers learn what to do in the event of an accident as part of getting their license. It is important to always stop, call for help, and exchange information for insurance purposes. However, some drivers do not realize that none of these things are optional. Failing to stop after an accident or fleeing the scene of an accident may result in criminal penalties.
Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime in Utah. Your criminal charges and penalties will be based on the severity of the accident. Accidents involving property damage, physical injury, and death have different penalties. While leaving the scene of an accident is generally a criminal offense, you may have a valid defense. An attorney can help you handle your case.
If you were recently in a car accident and have been charged with fleeing the scene, you may be facing serious criminal penalties. Our Salt Lake City criminal defense attorneys can help you clear your name. Arrange a free case review with our team at Overson Law, PLLC. Call us as soon as possible at (801) 758-2287.
What Happens in a Hit-and-Run Accident in Utah?
Car accidents are scary. It is not unheard of for drivers to leave the scene of an accident out of fear. They might be afraid of getting into legal trouble, especially if they know they are responsible for causing the accident. Other times, drivers simply panic and run, unsure what to do next. If you lost your cool after an accident and ran, you should understand the possible consequences of your actions.
Criminal charges for fleeing the scene of an accident vary from accident to accident. A minor accident in which only property is damaged is considered less serious than accidents involving injuries or death. These criminal charges are in addition to any other criminal charges you might face. For example, if you leave the scene of an accident involving death, you may be charged with fleeing the accident scene in addition to charges for vehicular homicide.
There may also be issues of civil liability after fleeing the scene of an accident. The other driver could sue you in a personal injury lawsuit. You would look very guilty if you fled the accident scene, especially if you did not call for help first. You might be on the hook for the other driver’s damages, which could be extremely expensive. Speak with our Ogden criminal defense lawyers about your case, and we can determine what kind of penalties you might face.
Criminal Penalties for Fleeing the Scene of an Accident in Utah
The criminal penalties for leaving the scene of an accident are not listed under Utah’s criminal code, interestingly enough. Instead, you can find this information under Utah’s motor vehicle code. You may be charged for leaving accidents involving property damage, physical injuries, and death. Our Utah hit-and-run accident lawyers are prepared to help no matter what kind of charges you are facing.
Accidents involving property damage are the least serious accident for which you can be criminally charged for leaving. Property damage may include, but is not limited to, damage to vehicles, real property, or personal property. For example, if you rear-end another car and damage their bumper, but nobody is hurt, you can still be charged if you flee the scene. According to Utah Code § 41-6a-401, you may be charged with a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail.
Accidents involving injury are treated a bit more seriously because people are hurt and require medical attention. Your charges will depend on how bad the injuries are. According to Utah Code § 41-6a-401.3, relatively minor injuries may result in Class A misdemeanor charges if you flee the scene. However, these charges are upgraded to third-degree felonies if the injuries are serious. Class A misdemeanors may be met with jail time of up 364 days, while third-degree felonies may be punished by prison sentences of up to 5 years.
Accidents involving death are especially serious and very tragic. People sometimes flee these accidents out of sheer panic, not to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. However, fleeing the scene of an accident involving death may lead to serious criminal penalties. According to Utah Code § 41-6a-401.5, you may be charged with a third-degree felony and sentenced to up to 5 years in state prison.
Is There a Good Reason to Leave the Scene of an Accident in Utah?
Hit-and-run accidents are generally regarded with much disdain. People tend to look down upon those charged with this offense as they believe it shows a certain level of callousness in the face of an emergency. However, people often do not consider the reasons a person had for leaving the scene of an accident. In some cases, a defendant may have had a good reason to leave.
While it is not a guaranteed defense, you may argue that you left the accident because you felt unsafe. Drivers are not very happy when they get in a car accident. In some cases, drivers become upset, angry, and irate. In extreme cases, drivers may lose control and become violent. If you were threatened by the other driver and feared for your safety, leaving the accident scene might be understandable. Our Utah hit-and-run accident attorneys can help you assert the best defense possible for your case.
No two accidents are alike. While it makes sense to remain on the scene until help arrives for some cases, this might not be a good idea in others. What if there is no way to call for help? What if it is late at night at no other drivers are passing by to help? In these circumstances, it might be best to leave the accident scene to search for help.
Call Our Utah Hit and Run Lawyers
We understand that you are not a bad person, and this was one bad mistake. Our Murray criminal defense lawyers will help you tell your side of the story. Contact the group at Overson Law, PLLC about a free case review. Call us today at (801) 758-2287.