A Hit and Run infraction is when a motorist comes into physical contact with another motorist, pedestrian, cyclist, other vehicle, property or structure, and then flees the accident scene. When it comes to accidents, whether the driver was at fault or not, it is their legal and ethical duty to remain at the scene. The driver must remain, in order to provide the other parties involved in the accident with their contact information, and assistance if any injury resulted. The driver also has a duty to assist by doing a minimum of calling the police, and ambulance if necessary. Failure to do so could result in a criminal charge if found guilty.
Regardless of the level of destruction, or how minor the collision is, the driver is required to remain at the scene until he/she has exchanged details with the other party. If injuries are sustained in the accident or if there is more than $1,000 in damages, the incident should be reported to the police immediately. If no one was injured, the accident must be reported to the Ministry of Transportation Accident Reporting Centre within ten (10) days. Failure to comply may result in an automatic guilty conviction.
When property damage occurs as a result of an accident, and no one is present, it is your responsibility to leave a message at the scene including information on how you can be contacted. Otherwise you can be charged with a criminal offense. Remember there could be security cameras and on lookers who can report you or take down your licence plate number.
The penalties for Hit and Run can be great. Fines can range from $400 to $2,000 and penalties can include up to 6 months in jail. In the case that the accused is proven guilty of “Failure to remain at the scene,” he or she will receive an automatic licence suspension, a criminal record and increased insurance rates for approximately three (3) years. Driving probation can also be an outcome if imposed by the judge.
Often, hit and run cases involve impaired driving. This is because the driver’s impairment undermines their ability to drive which leads to the accident then, through poor judgement and fear of charges, they flee the scene of the crime.
Fleeing the scene of an impaired driving accident will make the penalties much worse if caught. If you hit someone while driving under the influence of alcohol you are already facing two charges. If you decide to flee the scene of the crime, this would result in a third charge which, in turn, would increase the penalty. People assume that, if they flee the scene and are later identified, there will be no way for police to know that they were impaired at the time of the accident. They fail to take in account that eye witnesses, cameras or other methods law enforcers use to reconstruct accidents occurred, such as skid marks, the rate of impact and so on, can help law enforcers ascertain the state of the driver at the time of the accident.
In the technological era that we live in, it is fairly routine for law enforcers to track down perpetrators of hit and run accidents. If you are guilty or accused of a hit and run crime, be sure to get a touch with a skilled criminal lawyer. Defences exist that can help to overturn such charges or reduce the sentence.