Criminal Penalties for Leaving the Scene of a Car Accident

Auto accidents can create frightening and chaotic experiences that affect how individuals respond and act. Regardless of what occurs in a crash, however, those involved are subject to laws that require them to act appropriately. In Nevada, for example, all drivers involved in an auto accident – regardless of whether the crash was their fault or not – are required by law to stop and remain at the scene. If a driver leaves the scene, they can be charged with a crime.

Under Nevada laws, drivers have several legal obligations following a car accident. This includes:

  • Stopping and staying at the scene of an accident
  • Render aid if necessary
  • Exchange information (names, address, vehicle registration, etc.)
  • Provide information to law enforcement upon request

Depending on the circumstances involved – particularly whether or not an accident resulted in property damage or injury or death – drivers who leave the scene of an accident can be charged with misdemeanor or felony “hit and run.” Below, our Reno criminal defense lawyers at Joey Gilbert Law discuss these charges and the substantial penalties they pose.

Misdemeanor Hit & Run – Leaving the scene of an auto accident that results only in property damage (i.e. damage to involved vehicles) can result in misdemeanor charges. This includes property damage to an unattended or parked vehicle, as motorists are required by law to stop and attempt to locate the owner, or otherwise leave a written note with contact information, and inform law enforcement. When charged with misdemeanor hit and run, drivers can face substantial criminal and administrative penalties, including:

  • Up to six months imprisonment
  • Fines up to $1,000
  • Six points against your driver’s license

These penalties make it clear that even in cases of accidents involving only property damage, Nevada takes drivers’ legal responsibilities seriously. Aside from the prospect of jail sentences and fines, administrative license penalties can create a number of setbacks for drivers, including potential suspensions or revocations, as well as increased insurance costs.

Felony Hit & Run – With penalties as severe as those mentioned above, it makes sense why drivers who flee the scene of an accident resulting in death or bodily injury can face felony charges. Under Nevada law, felony hit and run charges can subject defendants to life-altering penalties, including:

  • 2 to 20 years in prison
  • Fines up to $5,000
  • Driver’s license suspension or revocation

Potential penalties and sentences, for both misdemeanor and felony charges, can vary depending on the facts of a case. An accident involving severe injuries suffered by a victim that could have been treated effectively if timely medical attention was called for example, can result in enhanced penalties and longer prison sentences. Additional crimes, if law enforcement has evidence to bolster allegations, can also result in more severe penalties. These can include crimes such as driving on a suspended license or driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs.

Protect Your Freedom & Future

Being charged with hit and run is nothing to take lightly. No matter what your case involves, enlisting the support and representation of skilled defense attorneys is critical to protecting your freedom and your future. Our attorneys have extensive experience protecting the rights of clients through every phase of the criminal process, and can conduct the necessary investigations to structure a sound defense strategy in pursuit of the best possible results.

If you or someone you love has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident in Reno or anywhere throughout the surrounding areas of Nevada, do not wait to speak with an award-winning criminal defense attorney from Joey Gilbert Law. We’re available 24/7 to help – contact us for a free and confidential consultation.


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