Hit-and-run accidents occur frequently throughout the state of California. According to CBS Sacramento, California had one of the highest rates for hit-and-run deaths around the nation in the year 2016. In fact, there were over 300 fatal hit-and-run accidents in our state in that year.
It’s against the law to leave the scene of an accident in California. Leaving after striking another vehicle can lead to criminal charges under Vehicle Code §20001 or 20002.
A Driver’s Duties After an Accident in Los Angeles
The laws in California require that drivers stop their vehicle after an accident that:
- Causes property damage
- Causes injuries
- Results in a fatality
Drivers don’t have to stop immediately where the accident occurred. Instead, they should park their vehicle at the closest location where it is safe for them to be stopped. Drivers should then find the owner of the vehicle they struck and, if asked, provide:
- Their driver’s license
- Their vehicle registration
- Their current address
Note that, per California’s laws, drivers are required to stop at the scene of an accident even if they didn’t cause the collision. Drivers have a duty to stop even if the collision took place on someone’s private property.
Finally, the state acknowledges that sometimes accidents occur while another driver is not present. In this situation, a driver does not have to wait for someone to return to their vehicle. It is legally acceptable to leave a note with the vehicle, including the above information.
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Other Requirements at the Scene of an Accident
Drivers in the state of California are expected to take several more actions if they are involved in an accident. Drivers are responsible for checking on any other drivers or passengers in the collision to make sure they are uninjured. Drivers should contact emergency services if someone requires medical treatment.
Additionally, drivers are supposed to report accidents to the police in many situations. Drivers are told to contact the police after an accident that leads to injuries or certain amounts of property damage.
It can also be a good idea to contact a car accident lawyer after a collision in Los Angeles. A lawyer can provide drivers with detailed information about what to do next.
If the Driver Left the Scene of a Collision
Drivers can face criminal charges under VC §§20001 or 20002 for leaving the scene of an accident in Los Angeles. Prosecutors can work to secure a conviction by working to show that:
- A driver was in an accident while driving
- The accident resulted in property damage or injuries
- The driver knew – or should have known – that they were in an accident
- The driver knowingly drove away without providing their information
Drivers in Los Angeles should only face a criminal conviction if the prosecution proves all of the above points. Note that leaving an accident knowingly means that a driver did so on purpose. Driving away from an accident for any reason could lead to VC §§20001 or 20002 charges here in Los Angeles.
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The Results of a Hit-and-Run Collision in Los Angeles
There are a number of repercussions associated with leaving the scene of an accident in Los Angeles. These penalties vary, depending upon whether an accident caused injuries or not. If you are accused of leaving the scene of an accident that only caused property damage, you could face:
- Jail time of up to six months
- Fines of up to $1,000
Judges sometimes sentence drivers to probation instead of jail time after a conviction for leaving the scene of an accident. Drivers who are accused of leaving an accident that caused an injury face more serious charges. In this situation, you could face prison time of up to three years if convicted in court.
Fortunately, you can get legal help if you are accused of leaving the scene of an accident in Los Angeles. A lawyer can work to defend you from these charges, helping you avoid fines and jail time.
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Call a Lawyer if You’re Accused of Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Make sure you take your charges seriously if you are accused of leaving the scene of a collision in Los Angeles. Our criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles are prepared to assist you. Learn more by calling our team at (310) 997-4688 or filling out our online contact form for a free consultation.