Getting into a car wreck is always a frightening experience, and it is understandable to be confused and upset in the aftermath of an accident. However, whether you remember your legal duties after a crash or not, leaving the scene of any car accident too early is a very serious criminal offense, and it may even be classified as a felony in certain situations.
If you have been accused of a hit and run, you have options to clarify your intentions and defend yourself in court, and a qualified defense attorney could help you take full advantage of those options. Working with a Chattanooga hit and run lawyer could make all the difference in the outcome of your case and help you avoid a life-altering criminal conviction.
Regardless of the extent of the property damage or injury in a car accident, every driver involved must stop their vehicle immediately and remain at the scene until they fulfill certain requirements. In accordance with Official Code of Georgia §55-10-103, these requirements include rendering “reasonable assistance” to anyone involved in the crash who needs medical attention. Depending on the circumstances, this assistance may include transporting or arranging the transportation of an injured person to a doctor’s office or hospital.
In addition, parties involved in car accidents must provide their name, address, and vehicle registration number to the other parties involved, as well as their driver’s license if requested to do so. If a car accident causes property damage to an unoccupied car or other personal property, the drivers involved must leave this information behind in written form or contact the entity responsible for the damaged property in order to provide this information.
These requirements apply regardless the location of an accident. If someone has to leave the scene of an accident for a legitimate reason such as a medical emergency, a Chattanooga hit and run attorney could help frame those extenuating circumstances as a defense against criminal prosecution.
The consequences that could come from a hit and run conviction depend on the level of harm the accident caused. Under O.C.G.A §55-10-102, leaving the scene of an accident that only resulted in property damage is either a Class B misdemeanor or Class A misdemeanor, based on whether the total value of damage is less than or greater than $1,500. More severe damage may also lead to the revocation of the convicted defendant’s license.
Conversely, O.C.G.A §55-10-101 makes leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury a Class A misdemeanor, and leaving the scene of a fatal accident a Class E felony. Both of these offenses are punishable by the revocation of the defendant’s driver’s license, as a hit and run lawyer in Chattanooga could explain in further detail.
Failing to provide identifying information and render aid to people injured in a car accident you were involved in is not just a matter of proper procedure. If you knowingly disobey state laws requiring you to stay at the scene of your car crash, you could find yourself facing license revocation, steep fines, and possibly even jail or prison time.
Contesting these kinds of charges can be more effective with a qualified Chattanooga hit and run lawyer by your side. Call today to learn how dedicated legal counsel could help.