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As grave as a hit and run charge is, there are circumstances that could relieve the obligation to stop and exchange information with the other driver or property owner. The assumption that the other driver was at-fault or you had the right of way are not reasonable defenses for leaving the scene of an accident.  

A Misdemeanor Hit and Run Charge

It’s essential to realize that in California, there are two types of hit and run charges. CA Vehicle Code (CVC) 20002Accidents and Accident Reports makes it a misdemeanor crime to leave the scene of an accident with property damage without first providing your information. The driver must give their full name and address and present their driver’s license and registration to the other person involved. 

When the owner of the property cannot be located, and there is  property damage other than a vehicle, the driver must leave that information in a conspicuous place providing the details of what happened and how to contact the driver of the vehicle who caused the damage. The driver must then notify the police as soon as reasonably possible.

A Felony Hit and Run Charge

CVC 20001Accidents and Accident Reports requires that a driver involved in an accident where there were injuries or death must stop and leave their information or they could receive a felony hit and run charge. Likewise, whenever anyone other than yourself is injured, even one of your passengers, you must report it. The extent of the injury and the driver’s ignorance of an injury is not an excuse. However, not knowing you were in an accident might be.  

Not Knowing about an Accident 

Not knowing you were in an accident is not the same as ignorance of someone’s injury. Given the size of some SUVs and pickups, you could very easily cause damage to another vehicle or property without knowing. 

The driver of a large vehicle could back into something and drive away without knowing they caused any damage or injury. It is reasonable to assume you cannot be guilty of leaving the scene of an accident you did not know occurred. However, it might be difficult to claim you didn’t know when there was substantial damage.

It Wasn’t You 

Just because your vehicle was involved in an accident does not mean you were the driver at the time of that accident. It is the state’s burden to prove you were the driver. It is not up to you to point out who was driving if there was no witness. 

Violence, Threats, or to Get Aid

When the other driver or property owner is violent or makes threats, you have no obligation to stay and risk injury. The same is true when someone is severely injured; you can leave the scene to take someone to the hospital. However, you must report the accident to the police as soon as possible.

The Only Damage Was to Your Car, or the Injury Was Your Own 

When the damage or injury was to you alone, you do not have to report it. But, remember, if another person’s property was slightly scratched, you must stop and exchange information. The extent of damage is irrelevant. 

Discuss Your Hit and Run Charge with a Bakersfield Traffic Defense Attorney

Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, whenever you receive a hit and run charge. Invoke your “right to remain silent” and don’t make any statement before you speak to us. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755. 

A hit and run charge requires knowledge and experience in both traffic and criminal law. We have that experience and knowledge. We have had tremendous success in getting dismissals and reduced charges in both criminal and traffic cases. Give us a call to discuss your situation.

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CVC 20002 & 20001Accidents and Accident Reports
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