Remorse being a universal feeling makes it hard to fault a person for trying to evade accountability. But, as countless hit-and-run suspects will tell you, difficulty does not dissuade the law from doing what it has to.
Salt in the Wound
When even the smallest of mistakes trigger the “fight or flight” mechanism in some people, you can imagine how a problem as substantial as a car accident might push a person towards his/her impulse to flee. Of course, acting on that impulse has its consequences – those that would make a vehicular breakdown far more preferable to a mental one.
Traffic lawyers from Springfield, IL note how hit-and-run cases are never about the accident per se, but simply the decision of a party (usually the less injured one) to leave the scene without providing identification or rendering aid. This serves as the basis for hit-and-run charges in most states, while some also add “any collision with an animal” to the definition.
Motorists should also remember where the law considers a hit-and-run charge valid. Few states limit the occurrences to highways or public roads, as the majority extends hit-and-run laws down to parking lot collisions. In addition, shortly leaving the scene, to contact help or retrieve medical supplies, for instance, does not constitute a hit-and-run.
A Costly Mistake
Depending on local laws, a hit-run may qualify as a felony or as a misdemeanor. In Illinois, for example, any vehicular accident resulting only in damage to property is a misdemeanor. Accidents resulting in any degree of physical harm links to felony hit-and-run, an offense punishable by incarceration or fines between $5,000 and $20,000. Misdemeanor hit-and-run charges can still run a suspect $5,000 and up to one year in jail.
Administrative penalties also await those guilty of hit-and-run, which, depending on state laws and the circumstances of the accident, can mean driver’s license suspension or revocation for a period of six months up to three years. In more severe cases, hit-and-run lawsuits resulted in lifetime revocation.
The importance of keeping a level head after an event as stressful as a car accident cannot be overstated. One’s desire to leave the mistake behind always ends up making the problem much worse than how it started.