Failure to Stop at an Accident

In Michigan, pursuant to Michigan Compiled Law 257.617, the driver of a vehicle who knows or who has reason to believe that he or she has been involved in an accident upon public or private property that is open to travel by the public shall remain there until the driver gives his or her name and address, the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving, the name and address of the owner of the vehicle, to a police officer, the individual struck, or the driver or occupants of the vehicle with which he or she has collided. The driver must also show his or her driver’s license to the aforementioned people as well. If there is anyone injured in the accident the driver must give reasonable assistance in securing medical aid or arranging for the transportation of any injured person.   If there is a reasonable and honest belief that remaining at the scene will result in further harm, the driver must immediately report the accident to the police. When a driver collides with a vehicle that is either attended or unoccupied, the driver has the responsibility to locate and notify the owner of the vehicle with the name and address of the driver. If the owner cannot be located, the driver has the duty to report it to the nearest police officer. The same is true if the driver collides with property on or adjacent to a highway, such as a telephone pole or a road sign.

Failure to stop at an accident is also referred to as hit and run.  Oftentimes it is the result of one car tapping another.  Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish if damage to another car was caused by tapping the other car, or if the damage previously existed.  Basically, according to the law, when in doubt you need to error on the side of caution and immediately report the accident.

Why do you need to retain a lawyer for this offense?  Failure to Stop at an Accident is a 90 day misdemeanor with a possible fine of up to $100. When a minor injury occurs during the accident the offense is still a misdemeanor charge, however it carries a maximum possible punishment of up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. If the Failure to Stop at the Scene of the Accident Results in Serious Impairment of a Body Function or Death, the offense becomes a felony punishable for more than 5 years in prison, a fine of not more than $5,0000, or both. When the Failure to Stop at the Scene of the Accident Results in Death and the Driver is at Fault, the charge becomes a 15 year maximum felony with a possible fine of up to $10,000.   Conviction for any of the aforementioned offenses also results in 6 points on the driver’s driving record, driver’s responsibility fees, potential loss of driving privileges, and assuredly higher insurance rates for those still with driving privileges. There is also the possibility of restitution and/or a civil lawsuit anytime a driver or passenger is injured in any type of an accident.

According to Michigan Compiled Law 257.623, the person in charge of any garage or repair shop in which evidence of an accident exists is required to report the same to the nearest police department or sheriff’s office immediately after the vehicle is received.   The garage or repair shop is required to provide the police with the engine number, registration number, and the name and address of the owner and/or operator of the vehicle. Hence, there is always a risk for a driver that flees an accident that the repair of the vehicle will lead to an investigation and possible arrest.  The risk of discovery also increases as traffic light and security cameras become more prevailent in society.

Related felony offenses to Failure to Stop at an Accident include: Failure to Use Due Care and Caution Causing Injury to Emergency Personnel (A possible 2 year felony pursuant to MCL 257.653a(3)); Failure to Use Due Care and Caution Causing Death to Emergency Personnel (a possible 15 year felony pursuant to MCL 257.653a(4)); Failure to Stop at Scene of Marine Accident Causing Serious Impairment or Death (a possible 5 year felony pursuant to MCL 324.80134a(2)); Failure to Stop at Scene of Marine Accident Causing Death when at Fault (a possible 15 year felony pursuant to MCL 324.80134a(3)); Operating a Snowmobile without regard to Safety Causing Serious Impairment (a possible 5 year felony pursuant to MCL 324.82127(5); and Operating a Snowmobile Carelessly or Negligently Causing Death or Serious Impairment (a possible 2 year felony pursuant to MCL 324.82126c(1)). There are also potential misdemeanor and/or felony charges when the accident during the operation of the vehicle involves the use of alcohol or drugs, or when the driver does not have a license.

Possible Defenses to these allegations include (but are not limited to): identity, reasonable doubt, lack of fault, lack of knowledge, self defense, and necessity.  Anytime a criminal charge is made, it is extremely important to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, such as the lawyers at Hilf & Hilf, PLC.  The experienced criminal defense lawyer can help protect your rights and fight on your behalf to obtain a just result – through trial, plea bargaining, sentencing agreements, or otherwise.