Leaving the scene of an accident in the state of Virginia can result in very severe penalties, including fines, a permanent criminal record, and even jail time. Depending on the unique elements of the situation, this could result in anything from a Class 4 misdemeanor to a Class 5 felony. The actual charge and penalty will be dependent in part on the driver’s history, the facts surrounding the case, and the legal defense used in court.
Virginia Legal Requirements
In Virginia, drivers involved in an accident that results in property damage, injuries, or even death must remain at the scene of that accident. While there, the nearest law enforcement officials should be contacted and anyone injured should be given what’s considered reasonable help by others involved. Below is important information on what to do following an accident in Virginia:
- When an accident you’re involved in results in someone else’s damaged property or where someone is injured or dies, you need to stop on the side of the road as close to the scene of the accident while avoiding any disruption of traffic.
- You should give the following information to police, others involved in the accident or the person who damaged property in the accident: your name, address, the number on your vehicle registration, and the number listed on your driver’s license.
- The only circumstance where you’re legally not required to make an immediate accident report is if your injuries prevent you from doing it. However, the police and the other parties must be provided the information as soon as possible.
- Where the accident takes place or the overall dollar amount of any property damage doesn’t matter, since Virginia law doesn’t differentiate between private and public property, no minimum price must be met. The lone exception comes in an accident where your damaged vehicle is involved in a one-car accident.
- If your accident damages unattended property, Virginia Code §46.2-896 requires you to find the property owner (while offering a reasonable amount of effort in the process) and report the accident. If that owner can’t be found, a note should be conspicuously placed for them to see it, with information on the accident, and local law enforcement should be contacted.
- According to Virginia Code §46.2-895, passengers 16 or older must report within 24 hours any accident in which they’re involved.
Penalties for Hit and Run in Virginia
As previously noted, the circumstances involved with your accident determine what type of penalties are assessed. The extent of property damage, whether the driver or passenger is charged, and whether injuries or death resulting from the accident are three major factors considered.
Being convicted of hit-and-run can result in fines and a jail sentence, and according to Virginia Code §46.2-901, property damage of more than $500 can result in a suspension of driving privileges for as long as six months. In addition, according to Virginia Code §46.2-389, anyone convicted of a hit-and-run accident that injures or kills will automatically have their license suspended for a full year.
Possible Defenses to Hit and Run Charges
Defending yourself if you’re charged with a hit-and-run charge is not advised. It is common for police to rely on specific evidence and the recollections of witnesses. That type of evidence is often circumstantial, offering a wide range of possible defenses. In some cases, you may not have even been aware there was an accident or that someone was injured or died. You also might have been a passenger and not the driver, or you may have been ordered by police to depart from the accident are. Finally, you can attempt to show that you made an attempt at contacting the property owner or left a prominent note. In some instances, the value of the damaged property could be open for debate. If that value is less, the possibility of a reduced penalty is possible.
We Are Ready to Help You!
If you have been charged with hit and run following an accident in Virginia – call The Brown Law Firm PLLC right away. It is important to remember that if you are being charged with this violation, there are certain defenses that may be available to you. Having legal representation that can accurately assess your case and protect your rights is essential. The Brown Firm PLLC’s traffic defense lawyers are highly experienced in defending drivers in Virginia court. To help you understand your options, we offer initial consultations by phone or at our office location. Call to set up your legal consultation or send us a message online with a description of your case.