Panic can do strange things to people. The flight-or-fight response is built into our physiological makeup, and when the unexpected happens, it can lead to behavior that would probably never occur under less stressful circumstances. This may prove a life-saving device in some situations, but after an automobile accident, it will get you into more trouble than it’s worth.
People who engage in hit-and-run behavior do so for various reasons. Some fear being caught with drugs, stolen goods or an over-the-limit blood alcohol content, aka, DUI. Others blindly flee in fear for no reason whatsoever. Unfortunately, there is never a good excuse for leaving an accident scene. People who do will just set themselves up for potentially far greater troubles.
Penalties for Leaving an Accident Scene
In the state of Nevada, running away from an accident in which you have had an involvement will always constitute a criminal offense. The law insists that drivers involved in vehicular smashups remain on the scene regardless of whether they were or were not at fault (NRS 484E.010). Nevada law also requires that they be ready to provide a name and address, a valid driver’s license and their vehicle’s VIN number to each other as well as to the police. Failure to have this information at hand can lead to the receipt of a citation.
If you choose to give in to the desire to flee from the scene of an auto accident, you will have committed a crime that could amount to:
- A misdemeanor if your mishap resulted in nothing worse than property damage.
- A Category B felony if it caused bodily injury or death to one or more persons.
Penalties for misdemeanor hit-and-run normally consist of six points against your license, a fine of up to $1,000 and as many as six months in jail. The penalties for felony hit-and-run, on the other hand, can subject you to a prison sentence of between two and 20 years, a fine of from $2,000 to $10,000 and the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.
Every case of hit-and-run is unique, and the severity of the punishments are liable to vary in accordance with elements specific to the situation. If driving under the influence has played a role, you can expect them to rise to the high end of the spectrum. This is also the case for sober drivers whose records contain prior DUI convictions within a specific span of time. In Nevada, this so-called lookback or washout period lasts for seven years.
Complications to a Hit-and-Run Case
In more complex cases, the charge of leaving the scene will merely be the icing on the cake. For example, if the accident from which a person flees has involved more than two vehicles or caused several injuries or deaths, the driver may find himself additionally accused of reckless driving, personal bodily injury or vehicular homicide.
Furthermore, Nevada recently changed the laws involving drivers who flee an accident scene while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Since October 1, 2015, such offenders have faced between two and 20 years behind bars with no chance for probation. Nevada law may also lodge separate charges for each victim who has died or suffered physical injury through the fault of drivers impaired in this way.
When Your Accident Involves a Parked Car
If your car should hit a vehicle that is parked in a lot or on the street with no driver in sight, Nevada law demands that you seek out the owner of that conveyance and make an attempt to straighten things out. If you cannot find that person, you must leave behind a note providing your contact information. You must also inform police about the mishap. If you leave without doing any of these things, you can be charged with a misdemeanor.
What to Do When You’re Accused of Leaving the Scene
Hit-and-run accidents are more common than many people realize. It is entirely possible to scrape somebody’s fence or even hit another object without knowing it at the time. However, in the majority of cases, those who flee from the scene of a crash are aware that they have caused damage.
In either case, fighting your charges successfully will require legal assistance. Common defenses to the accusation of hit-and-run include arguing that at the time you were:
- Involved in or running from an emergency situation.
- Involuntarily impaired by negative effects of prescription drugs or some other external trigger.
- Unaware that you had caused an accident.
Charges of leaving an accident scene can be difficult to dispute. If you should be facing such accusations, it is vital to obtain the services of a lawyer. It rarely pays to fight such serious allegations on your own. Please contact Weiner Law Group at 702-202-0500 immediately, and we will do all in our power to help.