All motorists involved in an accident have an obligation to one another to remain at the scene and to exchange their contact and insurance information. In fact, in New York it’s illegal to leave the scene of a collision without first exchanging information with other involved motorists, and in some situations you’re required to call 911 after an accident.
If you were in an accident and you were charged with a moving violation or misdemeanor connected to the accident, contact a New York traffic ticket lawyer from Feifer & Greenberg, LLP to learn how we can help.. For a free consultation, call us at (888) 842-5384 or contact us online.
Read on to learn about your obligations if you’re involved in a vehicle collision and possible defenses if you’ve been charged with leaving the scene of an incident ( a “hit-and-run”).
Overview of New York stopping laws
The unique facts and circumstances of your accident determine your legal obligations regarding stopping and staying at the scene.
After a vehicle collision, NYPD advises that the driver immediately:
- Stop and shift their vehicle into park
- Check themselves and any passengers for injuries
- If you’re unable to move your vehicle, or if someone is need of prompt medical assistance, immediately call 911 and follow the instructions that you receive
- If the vehicle is operable and no occupants of the vehicle have suffered any injuries, you should move your vehicle to a secure and safe location like the nearest shoulder, the median, or the rightmost lane. Do this prior to exiting your vehicle to assess the damage and situation.
Maintaining the safety of motorists and passengers should be the focus after the accident, and ensuring that any persons in need of medical care receive it.
If you’ve been in a vehicle collision that only resulted in property damage, you are responsible for the following:
- Exchanging driver’s license information with other involved motorists
- Exchanging insurance information
- The exchange of vehicle registration information.
When drivers are required to stop and call the police
It’s illegal for any driver to leave the scene of a collision without first exchanging information with the other drivers. Further, you’re required to remain on the scene and call the police immediately after a collision in the following instances:
- A person is injured or killed
- A domestic animal is injured or killed
- A parked vehicle, or any other property is damaged, and the owner cannot be located.
Filing an accident report
For insurance purposes, you should always file a Report of Motor Vehicle Accident with the DMV anytime you are involved in an accident. However, if more than $1,000 in damage was caused to any one person’s property, the report must be filed with the DMV within 10 days of the collision. Failure to timely file the report can lead to the suspension of your driver’s license.
It can be difficult to determine the amount of property damage caused, so it’s best to simply always file the report within 10 days of the collusion. If you were unsure of the amount of property damage caused, didn’t file a report, and your license was suspended or charges were filed against you, you may want to consult with an experienced moving violation or car accident attorney or contact the DMV for further information.
Penalties for hit-and-run in New York
In New York, a hit-and-run or fleeing the scene of an accident can result in charges ranging from a violation to a misdemeanor to a felony, and the resulting penalties will vary depending on if any persons were injured or killed in the accident.
An accident with property damage alone (without injury) is generally a violation while accidents that result in personal injury can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges. The penalties also depend upon the extent of the injury/damage as well as if the individual driver has been previously charged with leaving the scene.
Hit-and-run with injuries
Hit-and-run charges for accidents that resulted in personal injury or death are punished harshly for an obvious reason–this is behavior that any law makers will want to discourage. Motorists who flee the scene of an accident where a person was injured may face fines, imprisonment, and a permanent criminal record.
The motorist who fled the scene of an accident involving injuries to another person can face a wide range of fines depending on the severity of the situation and the charges.
A driver who’s convicted of leaving the scene of an accident will be subject to 3 points being added to their driving record, which in the long-term can lead to costly increases in insurance premiums. Drivers who leave the scene of an accident in which injuries have occurred may also face a suspension of their driver’s license for up to 1 year.
If a driver with a commercial driver’s license is found to have left the scene of any accident, they automatically lose their license for 1 year, regardless of whether or not the other involved parties were injured. Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard than non-commercial motorists, and working with an experienced New York traffic ticket lawyer is essential to protecting your rights.
Fines and surcharges and license actions are one thing, but the loss of your freedom is something else entirely. When serious injury was caused in the accident, such as the loss of a body part or permanent impairment, you could face up to 4 years in prison. Hit-and-run charges in New York linked to accidents involving a death can result in imprisonment of up to 7 years.
While it’s somewhat unusual, motorists who leave the scene of a property-damage-only accident can be sentenced to up to 15 days in jail. More serious offenses concerning personal injury or death can lead to more substantial sentences, underlining the importance of working with an experienced New York car accident attorney to protect your rights and freedom for any charges linked to leaving the scene of an accident.
Under New York Law, leaving the scene of an accident involving injury is a crime, and will result in a permanent criminal record if you are found guilty. A permanent criminal record can forever impact your life because it can influence everything from employment opportunities to housing applications.
When you’re charged with a crime, the prosecutor has the burden of proving that you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for every element of the crime that you’re being charged with. Your experienced New York traffic ticket lawyer will advocate for your rights and will require that the State meets their burden of proof at each step of the case, and if they don’t, we’ll require that they dismiss your case or acquit you of the charges that were filed.
Hit-and-run without injuries
While a hit-and-run without injuries is treated less severely by New York Law, it’s still illegal to flee the scene of an accident when no injuries occurred but property damage exceeded $1,000 or if a domestic animal was injured or killed.
In New York, you can experience fines ranging from $0 to $250 for motor vehicle collisions involving property damage with surcharges ranging from $88 to $93.
If you leave the scene of an accident, you’ll be given 3 points on your license, even if no one was injured.
Leaving the scene of an accident in which only property damage occurred can still lead to a term of imprisonment for up to 15 days. While this might sound minor, 15 days outside of your regular life and routine can be extremely disruptive to your life and can result in substantial costs in terms of lost wages, childcare expenses, and other side-effects of the brief incarceration.
Possible defenses to have your charges dropped or reduced
Your experienced New York traffic ticket lawyer will carefully review the facts and circumstances of your hit-and-run charge to determine the best defenses to assert to have your charges reduced or dismissed altogether.
Violation of your Miranda Rights
Law enforcement is required to read you your Miranda Rights prior to pursuing lines of questioning that could incriminate you. Failure to present you with these rights can lead to evidence being inadmissible in court.
Mistake of fact
Determining the exact value of a motor vehicle collision involving property damage can be difficult for an individual who isn’t well-informed about the costs associated with property and/or motor vehicle repair.
Your lawyer at Feifer & Greenberg, LLP will hold the State accountable for each element of the crime they’re charging you with, including proving whether or not a reasonable person would recognize that the damage exceeded $1,000.
Legitimate reason for leaving the scene
Outside of a legitimate and reasonable doubt as to the value of the property damage, more immediate concerns with safety and medical needs take priority.
Safety & medical attention
When a motorist is at risk of continued harm or injury due to or following the accident, moving from the scene of the accident to a position of safety is not only allowed, but encouraged. Leaving the scene to receive necessary medical attention also excuses a motorist from a hit-and-run charge when it’s effectively presented as a defense.
Got a ticket for leaving the scene of an accident? We can help.
The best way to ensure that you aren’t held accountable for charges that you aren’t guilty of, or to achieve the best possible outcome in situations where the evidence might not be in your favor, is to work with an experienced New York traffic ticket lawyer.
If you’ve been charged with fleeing the scene of an accident or hit-and-run in New York, reach out to the experienced lawyers at Feifer & Greenberg, LLP to schedule your free consultation by calling (888) 842-5384 or by contacting us online.
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