Hit and Run
A person who is involved in a traffic accident is required to immediately stop, give aid to injured persons if any, provide identification, and if insured supply that information to all others involved in the accident1. The purpose of these requirements is to insure that those involved in traffic accidents can be identified; to prevent some who may be at fault from avoiding civil or criminal liability; and to provide proper medical treatment for those who may be injured as the result of a traffic accident2.
The “hit and run” law applies to highways and private property which includes areas such as parking lots. The exchange of information requirement includes supplying the driver’s current address, and driver’s license number, the current address of the registered owner of any vehicle involve, along with vehicle license number or other identification3. Information regarding financial responsibility including the name and address of any insurance companies, including the policy numbers, of those involved in the accident must also be provided4. Violating these requirements can result in a fine of up to $2505.Accident Causing Injury or Death.
Where the accident involves death or injury, in addition to the above requirements, the persons involved in the accident must also give the information to any police officer investigating the accident6. Additionally, those involved in an accident involving death or injury must give reasonable assistance to persons injured in the accident, including transportation or making arrangements for transporting of injured persons to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary or if that transportation is requested by an injured person7.
In accidents involving fatalities and where no police officer is present, a driver must go to the nearest California Highway Patrol office, or a local police agency having jurisdiction, and submit a report providing the necessary information8. A driver must also make a written report regarding the circumstances of the accident to either the CHP or local police within 24 hours of the accident9.
The sentence for a person convicted of violating section 2000(a), leaving the scene of an injury accident, is commitment to state prison for 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years, or if probation is granted, a county jail sentence for up to 1 year, a fine of $1,000 to $10,000, or both10. If the accident causes the death, permanent or serious injury to someone, the prison term is increased to 2, 3, or 4 years, or where probation is granted, a mandatory to 90 days, and as much as 1 year11.
An additional and consecutive term of 5 years' imprisonment must be imposed if a person flees the crime scene after violating P.C. 191.5 (gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated or P.C. 192(c)(1) (vehicular manslaughter in commission of unlawful act or of lawful act in unlawful manner); and is convicted of either of these violations12.Accident Causing Property Damage.
The duty to stop also applies in the case of only property damage resulting from an accident. Often in the case of minor damage there is no police investigation. Stopping must be done immediately, safely, and at the nearest location that will not impede traffic13. In addition to stopping a driver must locate the driver(s) of other vehicles involved, exchange information including address, driver’s license and registration information, and financial responsibility including the name and address of any insurance companies14. If this is impossible then a driver must leave a note, including their name, address, and the owner of the vehicle’s name and address, if different, a description of the accident, and immediately notify the appropriate police agency in an incorporated area, or CHP if in an unincorporated areas15.
Violating these requirements is an unlawful, and punishable as a misdemeanor. To commit the offense there are several conditions that must occur; first a driver must know that they were involved in an accident; next they must know that damage to someone’s property resulted from the accident; and lastly, a driver must knowingly and wilfully leave the scene of the accident without giving the required information to others whose property may have been damaged16.
The punishment for failing to stop and exchange information, or leave a note, is a county jail sentence of up to 6 months, a fine of up to $1000, or both17. This would also apply to vehicles not actually being driven. An example is where a driver parks a vehicle at a location and exits the vehicle; it then becomes a runaway going down a hill; and is involved in an accident resulting in damage to the property of others whether it was attended or not attended18.
1Section 20001 of the California Vehicle Code
2Section 20001 of the California Vehicle Code
3Section 16025(a)(1) of the California Vehicle Code
4Section 16025(a)(2) of the California Vehicle Code
5Section 16025(b) of the California Vehicle Code
6Sections 20001(a), 20003(a) of the California Vehicle Code
7Sections 20001(a), 20003(a) of the California Vehicle Code
8Sections 20001(a), 20004 of the California Vehicle Code
9Section 20008(a) of the California Vehicle Code
10Section 20001(b)(1) of the California Vehicle Code
11Section 20001(b)(2) of the California Vehicle Code
12Section 20001(c) of the California Vehicle Code
13Section 20002(a) of the California Vehicle Code
14Section 20002(a)(1) of the California Vehicle Code
15Section 20002(a)(2) of the California Vehicle Code
16Section 20002(a) of the California Vehicle Code.
17Section 20002(c) of the California Vehicle Code.
18Section 20002(b) of the California Vehicle Code