Drivers in California are required to stop after they are involved in any motor vehicle accident that involves property damage. Legally, a driver must either:
- Exchange Information with Anyone Involved in the Accident, OR
- Leave Contact Information Where It can be Found
Drivers that leave the scene of an accident without stopping and sharing their information can face criminal charges under California Vehicle Code Section 20002: Misdemeanor Hit and Run. You can learn more about the penalties for this action and possible defenses from the Simmrin Law Group.
Misdemeanor Hit and Run: Definition
Drivers around Los Angeles can be charged with VC 20002 if they are part of an accident that causes some kind property damage, knew about the damage, and:
- Did Not Immediately Stop
- Did Not Provide Their Name and Address
The driver must provide their contact information to the owner of the damaged property. Drivers can give out their contact information:
- Directly to the Property Owner
- Through a Written Note Left in a Conspicuous Place
Note that a driver may be asked to show their vehicle registration and driver’s license, in addition to sharing their name and address. Finally, the driver must report the accident to authorities as soon as possible to avoid charges for a misdemeanor hit and run.
These steps must be taken for all accidents resulting in property damage, even if:
- Someone Else Caused the Accident
- The Accident Could Not be Avoided
Misdemeanor Hit and Run: Examples
Driver A pulls into a busy parking lot at the mall and clips another vehicle’s side-view mirror while trying to park. He decides that the damage is not that bad, so he pulls out and parks somewhere else without leaving a note about what happened. A parking lot camera catches the incident, and he is charged under VC 20002.
Driver B is heading to work one morning and merges onto the highway without noticing that there is a vehicle in his lane. He or she clips the front bumper of the other vehicle and hears metal crunch. However, he is in front of the other vehicle and doesn’t want to be late for work, so he does not stop. He could be charged with misdemeanor hit and run.
Misdemeanor Hit and Run: Penalties
Los Angeles courts can sentence individuals convicted of misdemeanor hit and run to:
- Jail Time: Up to 1 Year
- Fines: Up to $1,000
Additional conditions may be added based on the discretion of the judge. Drivers may also face other penalties if they are charged with other criminal acts in association with VC 20002, such as:
- California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a): Driving Under The Influence Of Alcohol
- California Vehicle Code Section 23140: Under 21 DUI With Blood Alcohol Content Between 0.05-0.07 Percent
- California Vehicle Code Section 12500: Driving Without A License
- California Vehicle Code Section 23103: Dry Reckless
These traffic violations can lead to longer periods of incarceration, higher fines, and the suspension of your driver’s license.
Misdemeanor Hit and Run: Defenses
There are several defenses for VC 20002 charges commonly used by Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers. A professional lawyer might be able to build a defense if:
No Property Damage Occurred
Drivers in Los Angeles are only required to stop and share their information if a wreck causes property damage. You should not be convicted under VC 20002 if nothing was damaged in a motor vehicle accident.
It Was Not Safe to Stay at the Scene of the Accident
Some drivers try to stop and share their information, but cannot for their own safety. Property owners may be infuriated by an accident and make violent threats against a driver. Drivers are not required to stay and put themselves at risk in this situation.
Misdemeanor Hit and Run: Professional Help
Drivers in Los Angeles do not have to try to resolve California Vehicle Code Section 20002: Misdemeanor Hit and Run charges on their own. You can contact the Simmrin Law Group for a FREE consultation if you are facing this charge.
Find out more about your legal options by completing our online contact form or calling (310) 896-2723.