A car accident can be a very stressful and overwhelming experience. If you are not familiar with Arizona laws, you may end up facing criminal charges due to mistakes you make at the scene of the collision. One possible crime is a hit and run. This is legally known as “leaving the scene” and can lead to severe legal penalties if you are convicted.
Here are some facts you should know about hit and run laws in Arizona:
Various Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) sections define your legal obligations after a motor vehicle accident. ARS 28-661 and ARS 28-662 outline your duty to stop at the scene of any collision that you are involved in, whether this results in injury or damage to a vehicle. Arizona law requires that you stop at the scene. In cases where you cannot safely stop exactly where the collision occurred, you must stop as close as possible.
ARS 28-663 gives the specific requirements you must fulfill before you may leave the location. These include giving your name, address, and vehicle identification number (VIN). You do not have to give your driver’s license information if no one prompts you to do so. However, if another driver or law enforcement requests your license, you must comply. You also have a duty to provide reasonable assistance to anyone who sustained injuries in the accident. This includes calling emergency services.
Failure to follow any of these regulations can result in criminal charges for hit and run. This is true whether or not you were at fault for the accident. Per ARS 26-664, you can also face charges for leaving the scene if the vehicle you hit was unoccupied. In any motor vehicle accident, you should stay on the scene or as close to it as safely possible. Providing your information and complying with law enforcement can help minimize the harsh penalties that can accompany a hit and run conviction.
If you did leave the scene and are facing criminal charges, you may be wondering exactly what penalties you could receive. This will depend on whether the incident is a felony or a misdemeanor. Arizona law outlines the specific classifications for different types of hit and run situations.
The most serious type of charges for leaving the scene are when another motorist is seriously injured (as defined in ARS 13-105) or is pronounced dead after the accident. If you do not follow the requirements in ARS 28-663 and the collision results in death or severe injury, you will face a class 3 felony charge even if you did not cause the accident. In accidents where you were at fault, this increases to a class 2 felony. If another driver was injured but it was not classified as serious, leaving the scene is a class 5 felony.
Hit and run charges are generally misdemeanors if the accident damaged vehicles but did not injure other motorists. It is a class 2 misdemeanor to leave the scene of an accident that resulted in damage to an attended vehicle, as outlined in ARS 28-662. It is a class 3 misdemeanor to not leave a note or otherwise provide information after a collision with an unattended vehicle. ARS 28-664 defines this charge. You may also face misdemeanor charges if you remain at the scene of an accident but do not provide the requested information.
If you are facing criminal charges following a car accident, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. This is especially true for hit and run charges, which can include serious penalties if the courts convict you. Our attorneys have extensive experience defending clients charged with leaving the scene.