Leaving the Scene of an Accident

Leaving the Scene of an Accident

A car accident can be incredibly stressful, no matter how small or how large. If you have left the scene of an accident—a “hit and run”—then you should seek legal advice. In New York State, leaving the scene of an accident is considered a crime under the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law,  Section 600. It is important to work with your lawyer and explain why you left the scene of the accident.  While reasons for leaving are not necessarily legal defenses, they will help your lawyer have a clear understanding of your case.

In some cases, you may have been wrongly accused of the crime. What if someone else was driving your vehicle and got into an accident and left the scene? What if someone mistakenly identified you as the person who drove away from the accident?

The Vehicle and Traffic Law separates the law into two main parts—one for drivers who have caused property damage and another for drivers who have caused injury.

Property damage is caused  by “[a]ny person operating a motor vehicle who, knowing or having cause to know that damage has been caused to the real property or to the personal property, not including animals, of another, due to an incident involving the motor vehicle operated by such person.”

If a driver caused an accident with property damage, then he or she must stay at the scene of the accident while exchanging information with the other driver. The driver must also provide information to the police.

The driver who has caused the accident must exhibit her or her driver’s license card. Additionally the driver must provide his or her:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Insurance carrier information, including number of the policy and the effective dates of policy
  • License plate number

If the accident caused injury to another individual, then you are required to stay at the scene of the accident. If you and the other driver are capable of exchanging information, you must show your driver’s license and insurance card.  You must provide the same information to the other driver and the police as if you had been involved in an accident involving property damage.

Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious crime. The specifics of the case determine what class of crime the action constitutes. For example, if you do not exchange information or exhibit your identification when required, then this can be considered a class B misdemeanor. If you leave the scene of an accident that results in death, then you can be charged with a class D felony. It is crucial to speak with a criminal defense attorney if you have left the scene of the accident or if you have already been accused of or charged with this crime. Julie Rendelman is an attorney with over 20 years of experience. She has worked both as a prosecutor and a criminal defense lawyer. Free consultations are available at 212-951-1232.