No one wants to be in a car crash, but that doesn’t mean you can escape the situation by fleeing the scene. It might seem reasonable to leave if you think no one was hurt, but staying until the authorities arrive is a better choice. Collisions after which a driver leaves without providing identifying information or assistance are known as “hit-and-run” accidents.
If you were involved in a hit-and-run accident, contact the law office of Bain Sheldon today. Since 2006, we’ve helped the Central Virginians that need it most. Our experienced Virginia criminal defense lawyers provide reputable, dedicated legal representation that you can count on.
Contact us online or by phone for an initial consultation today.
What Are Virginia’s Hit and Run Laws?
Virginia law makes hit-and-runs a criminal offense. Violating the statute by leaving the scene of a crash can lead to fines, misdemeanor charges, and even felonies in the most serious cases.
Under § 46.2-894 of the Code of Virginia, any driver involved in an accident must stop at the scene. This is true whether someone is injured or only property is damaged. Those involved must then provide to the State Police or local law enforcement with their:
- Driver’s license number
- Vehicle registration
Drivers must also render reasonable assistance to any injured person. This could include calling emergency services to take them to the hospital or taking them directly to a medical facility. If you fail to help any injured person, you could be in violation of this statute and be subject to penalties.
Virginia also requires that passengers report accidents. Under Code of Virginia section 46.2-895, passengers over the age of 16 who know of a hit-and-run accident must report it to police within twenty-four hours.
Finally, hit-and-run rules apply when the owner of the property or vehicle isn’t present, even if no one was injured. If a driver damages a parked car, for example, the Code of Virginia § 46.2-896 requires the person to try to locate and notify the owners. If they can’t, they must leave their contact information and identification at the scene and report the incident to the police. Moreover, state law dictates that passengers 16 and older must make their own report if the driver fails to do so.
What Are the Penalties for Hit-and-Run in Virginia?
The penalties for a hit-and-run conviction can be severe. They depend on the value of damage related to the crash and whether any person was injured. Under Virginia law, penalties could include demerits to your license and other penalties, such as:
- A Class 4 misdemeanor for leaving the scene of an accident with an unattended vehicle when damage was below $250
- A Class 1 misdemeanor when leaving the scene of an accident with an unattended vehicle when damage is $250 or more
- A Class 1 misdemeanor when damage is $1000 or less to an attended vehicle
- A Class 5 felony in cases where there’s more than $1000 of damage or someone is injured or killed
What Are Common Defenses Against Hit-and-Run Charges?
While a hit-and-run conviction can bring serious penalties, there are strategies an experienced attorney can use in defense. After a hit-and-run accident in Virginia, some common defenses include:
- You were unable to stay at the accident for reasons such as a serious injury.
- No property damage or injuries were caused by the accident.
- You weren’t operating the vehicle at the time of the accident.
- Police didn’t follow the correct procedure in their investigation.
How Bain Sheldon Could Help
The seasoned Virginia criminal defense attorneys at the law office of Bain Sheldon can help with every part of your case. Serving the people of Tidewater and Central Virginia, our attorneys know how to protect your rights and interests. From identifying defenses and answering your questions to zealously advocating for you in court, we’re ready to stand up for you.
For a free case evaluation, get in touch with us today.