Leaving the Scene of an Accident – Hit and Run
Accidents happen. They don’t necessarily result in criminal charges – after all, they are called accidents. But sometimes, an accident can lead to criminal charges for failing to properly obey the traffic laws or if a driver leaves the scene of an accident. In Minnesota, a Leaving the Scene of an Accident criminal charge – more commonly referred to as a “Hit and Run” – can range from a simple misdemeanor all the way up to a felony, depending on the extent of the harm caused.
In any accident, Minnesota law requires a driver to stop as soon as reasonably possible after the accident. When stopping, the driver should be careful to not unnecessarily obstruct traffic. At that point, the driver must provide their name, address, birthdate, and registration to the other driver and/or law enforcement. This is true regardless of whether the other vehicle was occupied or not. In the instance it is not occupied, the driver must notify law enforcement or leave a note with this information in a noticeable place. The parties shall reasonably investigate what was struck in the accident. And if there is bodily injury or, worse, death, then the parties must contact law enforcement – and, though not necessary under the law, consider asking for medical assistance.
There is an exception to these rules. A driver may leave the scene of an accident to take an person suffering bodily injury to a hospital to get emergency medical care. Once the person in need is getting the requisite care, though, the driver must contact law enforcement as soon as reasonably possible to provide the necessary information.
If the accident causes injury or death, the driver may be facing felony penalties – including prison time and/or a significant fine – for leaving the scene of an accident. If less serious bodily injury is involved, the penalty is a gross misdemeanor. And it’s a misdemeanor for property damage type cases.
In addition to these criminal penalties, any conviction leads to a suspension of the driver’s license, with appropriate notice of the same that the State must provide. The loss of license, combined with the criminal penalties, make the leaving the scene of an accident a very serious case and one that requires the right team of experienced Minnesota criminal defense lawyers to help you fight the case. If you are facing these serious charges, contact us as soon as possible.