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Feifer & Greenberg, LLP
Call Us: (888) 842 - 5384
                                (TicketHELP)
hit and run car accident
12 Feb2019


Leaving The Scene of an Accident in New York

Any time there is a motor vehicle accident in New York state where there is injury to property, domestic animals, or a person, the driver is required to stop and show their license and registration to the owner of the damaged property. In most cases where serious property damage or injury occurs, the driver is required to file a police report with the nearest police station or through a 911 dispatcher.

Failing to abide by these New York state laws could result in a traffic violation. These violations carry with them possible points on your license as well as fines. The more serious violations will likely qualify as a misdemeanor crime, with jail time and heftier fees attached. If someone was seriously injured or killed, then a driver who flees the scene could even face felony charges.

The penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in NY should, therefore, motivate anyone to perform their due diligence and notify any affected parties as well as local police, as necessary.

If you are facing charges for fleeing an accident scene and believe that your case somehow has extenuating circumstances, you can work with an NY traffic ticket attorney to possibly reduce your charges or have them dropped entirely. The stiff penalties you may face may be motivation enough to exercise your right to legal representation and defense against your hit-and-run charges.

The Penalty for Leaving the Scene of an Accident Involving Property Damage

New York State’s vehicle and traffic law (VTL) Article 22 lays out several sections that dictate what a driver should do in the event that they are involved in an accident that causes damage to property or injury to a person or domestic animal.

Section 600 explains that a driver that causes damage to property must stop their vehicle immediately and attempt to provide contact and insurance information to the affected property owner or owners. This information includes:

  • Driver’s license
  • Insurance card
  • Insurance carrier name
  • Full legal name
  • Residential street address

If the driver who caused the accident cannot locate the property owner — such as if they hit a parked car — the driver must instead contact the nearest police department in order to file a report. The driver may also find it in their best interest to leave contact information on the person’s vehicle or near the property so that there is no question about the incident left hanging.

The penalty for failing to provide information or file a report as needed after causing property damage:

  • The act counts as a traffic violation, not technically a crime
  • Maximum penalties include up to:
    • A $250 fine
    • 15 days in jail
  • Certain acts that cause major property damage or qualify as certain types of gross neglect may potentially carry stiffer penalties

The Penalty for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in NY After Hitting a Domesticated Animal

New York State VTL §601 requires that drivers stop in the event that they strike and cause injury to certain animals. The animals this law applies to can generally be considered to be domesticated pets or farm animals. VTL only specifically names four types of animals that this law may apply to: cats, dogs, horses, and “cattle-like” animals. That latter category includes actual cows and cattle, and it may potentially also include sheep, goats, and other livestock — although these species are not named.

The penalty for failing to provide information or file a report as needed:

  • The act counts as a traffic violation, not technically a crime
  • Maximum penalties include up to:
    • A $250 fine
    • 15 days in jail
  • Certain acts that cause significant monetary damage to animals or qualify as certain types of gross neglect or animal cruelty may potentially carry stiffer penalties

It’s interesting to note here the distinction made between animals which seem to have some value to humans and all other animals. Dogs and cats have the emotional value, horses and cattle the financial value.

The Penalty for Leaving an Accident Scene in NY After Causing Injury to a Human Person

As one might imagine, fleeing the scene of an accident after injuring a person carries steeper penalties compared to hurting an animal or damaging property.

NY VTL §602 mandates that you report all accidents that lead to the injury of a person to the nearest police station. Failing to do so could result in a class A misdemeanor criminal charge. Being convicted of this crime places it on your permanent criminal record.

The penalty for fleeing the scene of an accident that causes injury can include:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • A $500 – $1000 fine

These penalties presume that your accident only causes minor injuries. If you have caused major injuries, as described in Section 10 of New York’s Penal Law code, then your actions could result in a class E felony charge. This charge would lead to a maximum of:

  • Up to 4 years in jail
  • A fine between $1,000 – $5,000

Leaving the scene of an accident after causing the death of an individual can result in a class D felony charge. This crime can lead to:

  • Up to 7 years in jail
  • A fine between $2,000 – $5,000

A felony conviction would also likely severely restrict your rights as an individual. You may be made ineligible for voting, serving on a jury, or obtaining certain civil service jobs. You will also be barred from owning a firearm or serving in the military.

How an NY Traffic Ticket Attorney Can Potentially Help if You Face a Penalty for Fleeing an Accident

The laws mentioned above — along with their penalties — largely serve as a guideline for prosecutors and judges. In some cases, a prosecutor may be willing to offer a plea bargain to individuals willing to cop to certain criminal charges willingly. Such an agreement could result in reduced charges and less severe consequences.

Other times, an individual may be able to successfully defend against the charges. Possible defenses include arguing that the defendant feared for their safety, they were unaware of the damage, or that the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to pursue the charges.

In other words, facing charges for a hit-and-run doesn’t have to mean an automatic conviction. You can work with an experienced NY traffic ticket attorney to explore all of your available options.

If you want to receive a free case evaluation for your possible charges, you can contact us online or call today to schedule a free case evaluation.