How to Avoid Getting Charged with a Hit and Run

Sep 04, 2019


One of the most frequent charges we see is hit and run driving.  The two most common types of hit and run are those where solely property damage was involved and those where a physical injury or death occurred.  Vehicle Code section 20002 covers the situation where there was just property damage.  This still falls under the umbrella of being a misdemeanor offense and can carry a stiff penalty of up to 180 days and jail.  Vehicle Code section 20001 applies to those instances where an injury occurred, or a death and the driver fled the scene.  This can result in a state prison sentence up to three years.  The following are tips to avoid being charged with these offenses:

1. Don't leave the scene of the accident


If you leave the scene of any accident, you can be accused of a hit and run. Hitting a parked car is the same; it's an accident. Also, bear in mind that if you are driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs when this occurs, a court might see you as leaving the scene because of the potential DUI. Look around to see if a driver or owner of the vehicle is around and wait as long as you can.  If you must move your vehicle, stay as close as possible to the scene where the accident occurred.  We see many cases where people were charged when they parked a few blocks away.  The farther the distance, the more likely you are to be seen as fleeing the area.


2. Leave a note if the driver isn't around


One of the common circumstances that occurs is when you hit a parked car.  The other driver may not be around to notify in person. They may be at work or engaged in an activity that will take at least several hours. If that's the case, you need to leave them a note. A detailed note will establish that you didn't leave the scene of an accident. Vehicle Code section 20002(a) requires that the note be left in a conspicuous place on the vehicle or other property that was damaged. 


The note should contain your contact information and your insurance information. The law also requires an explanation be left as to what occurred. Leave your name, address and telephone number, clearly and legibly spelled. You are also required to immediately notify the police department where the accident occurred or the Department of CHP if you are in an unincorporated area.  


3. Take pictures


It's a good idea to take pictures of the car you hit, if you have a smartphone or camera with you. This establishes the degree and amount of damage, and where it occurred.


4. Call your insurance company


Finally, call your insurance company to report the accident. Most policies have a provision requiring you to notify them without a lengthy delay. Let them know that you left contact information, if you did, so they know to expect a report from the other driver.


If you need a Criminal Defense or DUI attorney, contact us today.

Category: Traffic Crimes

Michael Mitchell


Michael Mitchell is a Fresno attorney who practices in the areas of DUI, personal injury & criminal law. Visit his Google+ profile.