Getting handed a speeding ticket in Missouri is one thing, but leaving the scene of an accident that you’ve been involved in is a whole other ordeal, with serious charges and fines. Even if you weren’t the cause of the accident in question, leaving the scene before the police have arrived or told you that you can leave has severe consequences.
Continue reading to learn more about what happens when you leave the scene of an accident, the penalties involved, and what you should do if you’ve been in an accident so that you don’t face additional legal issues.
What Happens When You Leave The Scene of an Accident in Missouri
Leaving the scene of an accident, also known as a hit and run in Missouri, can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the accident, as you’ll see below. When a person leaves the scene of an accident, whether or not they were the cause of the incident, police officers will arrive after they have been called by the other persons involved or witnesses to the accident to investigate the scene.
Police officers will check all possible avenues for information regarding the traffic accident in Missouri, this will include any and all witnesses, people involved in the accident, signs of damage, traffic light cameras, other surveillance footage, etc.
If the evidence that is uncovered sheds a light on the person who left the scene of the accident, the police will often go to the person’s home, workplace, or other locations where the person is known to haunt. Police do not need a warrant to question the suspected person. However, they may work to obtain one anyway, according to this article.
Penalties for Leaving The Scene of an Accident in Missouri
If you are found and charged with leaving the scene of an accident in Missouri, you will face some pretty hefty charges regardless of the accident. In Missouri, a person will be charged for either a misdemeanor or felony charge for a hit and run/leaving the scene of an accident. Under Missouri Revised Statute MO Rev Stat § 577.060 (2013, a person commits the criminal act of leaving the scene of the crime and will be charged with a class A misdemeanor if he or she:
- While operating a vehicle, leaves the place of the injury, damage, or accident without stopping and giving his name, residence, which includes the city and street number, license plate number, and driver’s license number to either the injured party or a police officer or nearest police station or judicial officer.
Getting convicted with leaving the scene of an accident, on a misdemeanor level may land you with one year in jail as well as fines up to $2,000.
Leaving the scene of an accident in Missouri is deemed a class D felony if the accident resulted in:
- Physical injury or death of another party
- Property damage over $1000
- If the defendant has a prior leaving the scene of an accident conviction.
A class D felony conviction will land you seven years in prison with fines reaching up to $10,000 or twice the amount of the damages incurred from the accident.
In addition to the criminal case, the other party has the right to sue you in a civil case for damages.
Leaving the scene of an accident in Missouri immediately paints you in a bad light in front of the jury. Even if you’re not guilty, when you leave, it makes you look guilty. This is a hard fact for jury members and the judge to overlook, that’s why it is absolutely necessary to hire a traffic ticket attorney who has experience working with these types of cases like the traffic ticket lawyers at Springfield Traffic Tickets. If you are facing leaving the scene of an accident charge, contact our Springfield, MO law office today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
What You Should Do If You’ve Been Involved in an Accident in Missouri
To stay on the right side of the law, it’s important to know what you should do if you’ve been involved in an accident. Some people are unsure of what to do if they are in an accident. And, while not knowing isn’t a defense in legal situations, knowing what to do in the future will help to make sure you don’t ever need to worry about dealing with the police or being charged with a hit and run in Missouri. According to All State, the following should be done if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident:
- Check yourself for injuries. If you are seriously injured, try not to move and wait for help or have someone call 911.
- Check on our passengers. If you are able, check to see if your passengers are ok. Call 911 if anyone is hurt.
- Get to safety. If you can get yourself and the other passengers to a safe spot. If your vehicle is causing a hazard and you are able to move it out of the way, do so.
- Call 911. Even if it’s a tiny fender bender, it is required in most states. In Missouri, you must call the police if more than $500 of damage has happened or if anybody is injured. Err on the side of caution if you’re in an accident, and always call the police.
- Wait for help. Turn your hazards on to notify other roadway users to steer clear.
- Exchange information. You must exchange your information with the other person who was in the accident and/or the police officer. You will need to give your full name and contact information; insurance information; license plate number and driver’s license number; the make, model, and color of your vehicle; location of the accident.
- Document the accident. If police are on the scene they will do this, but for insurance reasons mainly you’ll want to take pictures of the accident as well as get a copy of the police’s report of the accident.
- Notify your insurance provider about the accident.
While these steps are helpful for insurance reasons, they also will help you to make sure that no step is skipped if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident in Missouri. If you’ve been in an accident and are facing leaving the scene of an accident, call Springfield Traffic Tickets today.