Getting into an accident can be stressful and likely will be expensive, especially for the driver at fault in the accident. Some drivers panic after an accident and leave the scene, especially if the driver has a suspended license, has been drinking, or does not have insurance. However, leaving the scene of an accident can result in criminal charges in Texas.
After an accident, drivers in Texas have a duty to stop and provide contact information to the other driver. If you left the scene of an accident without stopping or providing the necessary information, you may be facing hit and run charges. Talk to your experienced Odessa traffic offense lawyer about your rights, legal defenses, and how your lawyer will fight the criminal charges against you.
Texas Hit and Run Laws
Under Texas Transportation Code Chapter 550, drivers have a duty to stop in event of an accident. This includes an accident involving:
- Personal injury or death,
- Damage to a vehicle,
- Striking an unattended vehicle, and
- A fixture, structure, or highway landscaping.
Failure to stop after an accident can result in criminal penalties, including possible imprisonment in cases of an injury or fatal accident.
Hit and Run Unattended Vehicle or Property
The driver that collides with and damages an unattended vehicle shall immediately stop, and when possible, locate the owner of the vehicle and provide the driver's name and address. If the driver cannot locate the vehicle, he or she should leave a written notice with their name and address and circumstances of the collision.
If a driver hits a structure or fixture, like a mailbox, lamp post, or structure, the driver should stop and attempt to locate the owner and notify the owner of the accident, and provide name, address, and registration number. If requested, the driver should also show their driver's license.
Hit and Run Car Accident
After an accident with another vehicle or multiple vehicles, a driver shall immediately stop at the scene of the accident, or as close to is safely possible. The driver involved in the accident shall give his or her:
- Vehicle registration number,
- Insurance carrier name, and, if requested,
- driver's license.
If anyone is injured in the accident, the other driver shall provide reasonable assistance, including making arrangements for transportation to medical treatment if the injury victim needs medical assistance.
Hit and Run Injury Accident
After an accident that results in or is reasonably likely to result in injury or death, a driver shall immediately stop at the scene of the accident, or as close to is safely possible. The driver shall determine whether a person involved in the accident needs medical care. The driver shall provide reasonable assistance to the injury victim, including arranging transport for medical assistance.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident
The penalties for leaving the scene of the accident depends on the type of accident, if anyone was injured or killed, and the value of the damage.
Failing to stop after a car accident, hitting an unattended car, or hitting a fixture or structure is:
- Class C misdemeanor, if the damage to all fixtures and landscaping is less than $200; or
- Class B misdemeanor, if the damage to all fixtures and landscaping is $200 or more.
The penalties for leaving the scene of an injury accident or fatal accident are more serious. Failing to stop at the scene of an accident involving injury or death is:
- A second-degree felony if the accident resulted in death,
- A third-degree felony if the accident resulted in serious bodily injury, or
- A county jail felony if the accident did not result in death or serious bodily injury.
The criminal penalties for leaving the scene of an injury accident can result in prison time, jail time, and/or fines.
Hit and Run Related Charges
Some people leave the scene of an accident because they are driving illegally and do not want to get caught. However, witnesses may see the accident, take video or photos of the vehicles involved, and call the police to report the accident. Drivers who do not stop at an accident may then face additional violations or criminal charges, including:
- Driving a stolen vehicle,
- Driving on a suspended license, or
- Driving without insurance.
Odessa Vehicle Violation Defense Lawyer
There may be a number of valid defenses for someone accused of a hit and run, including the individual was not driving, the accident scene was unsafe, or the driver did not know he or she hit another vehicle.
If you've been charged with leaving the scene of an accident in Odessa, Texas, the Law Office of E. Jason Leach, PLLC is here to fight for you. E. Jason Leach is a Board Certified criminal defense attorney who has dedicated his law practice to defending the accused. To set up a free consultation contact, the Law Office of E. Jason Leach today at 432.552.7000.