If you drive a vehicle it is statistically likely that you will be involved in some kind of accident at some point in your life. Being a defensive driver and anticipating these sorts of events goes a long way towards minimizing this possibility, but even the most conscientious drivers can’t predict everything.
Sooner or later, even the best and safest driver may find himself behind the wheel of a wreck, wheels spinning and hood crumpled. Maybe it was the driver’s fault, or maybe it was completely out of his hands. Maybe the damage is life threatening – maybe all that needs to be fixed is a tail light or bumper. Whatever the circumstances, it can happen to anyone.
When it does happen, the impulse to leave the scene of the accident can be very strong. Accidents are disorienting and traumatic events, summoning that part of ourselves that wishes to flee. Psychologists refer to this desire as flight or fight, a reaction hardwired into our brains to cope with danger. In the face of a predator or possible threat, we either desire to combat the threat or escape it. While we don’t hunt for food like our ancestors, we still retain their cognitive impulses and feel similar emotions when confronted with scary situations like auto accidents.
Unfortunately, fleeing an accident is one of the worst things a driver can do from a legal standpoint. There are many important reasons why police and other authorities require the participants of an accident to be present, first and foremost to ensure that information about the accident is accurately recorded. If a party leaves an accident, it becomes dramatically more difficult for the police to determine things like culpability and other things. As a result, leaving the scene of an accident is punishable by serious penalties, especially in New York.
What Is The Fines And Penalties For Leaving The Scene Of An Accident In New York?
Under VTL 600-1a a person involved in an automobile accident where damage has been caused may not leave the scene of the accident without first sharing his personal details as license and insurance information with the police or other individuals involved in the accident. The fines and penalties may vary depending on if anyone was hurt or if there was property damage. The fine for a first offense can be punishable up to 15 days in jail with a $250 fine.
If an individual was hurt then you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Criminal records in New York are permanent and can never be erased. The fine goes up to between $500-$1000 and a possible one year jail sentence.
If the incident was a repeat offense or there was serious injury or death, the act of leaving can actually be classed as a E felony. Yes, a felony which is a crime punishable by at least 1 year in state prison. Leaving the scene of a crime is clearly no laughing matter.
No one is exempt for these laws – last year celebrity Lindsay Lohan clipped a pedestrian with her Porsche and fled the scene of the crime. Even a Hollywood actress isn’t immune to the consequences to this behavior, and her callous attempt to ignore the consequences of her poor driving demonstrate why leaving the scene is punished so harshly – what if that pedestrian was seriously injured?
Who Should I Call For Help With My Leaving The Scene Charge?
If you find yourself in an auto accident and are unsure of what the legal consequences are, consult a lawyer immediately. The qualified attorneys at the Rosenblum Law Firm are capable of assessing your situation and securing the best outcome.