Engaging in a hit and run by leaving the scene of a car accident is a crime under state law. The penalties for hit-and-run convictions are serious and could result in a lifelong criminal record, in addition to imprisonment and fines.
If you have been accused of fleeing the scene of a motor vehicle accident, you should not enter legal proceedings without qualified representation. A Bloomington hit and run lawyer could examine the specific circumstances of your case to help you effectively fight your charges.
Defining “Hit and Run” Under Minnesota Law
Minnesota Statute 169.09 requires drivers to follow a stringent procedure following motor vehicle accidents, especially if they suspect the collision resulted in someone else’s injuries or death, whether it is another driver, pedestrians in the area, or passengers in any vehicle involved in the crash. It is important for someone accused of leaving the scene of an accident to consult with a Bloomington hit and run attorney to determine an effective course of legal action.
The Driver’s Responsibilities After an Accident
If any driver is involved in a collision, they are required by law to stop their vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible without unnecessarily obstructing traffic to determine the severity. The driver must remain at the scene of the accident if they know or have reason to believe that someone involved in the collision was injured or killed and contact the police right away.
In this scenario, the driver is required to render any reasonable assistance to anyone injured in the collision and may not leave the scene of the accident until they provide the following information at a law enforcement officer’s request:
- Driver’s name
- Date of birth
- Mailing address or email address
- Registration plate number of the vehicle being driven
- Driver’s license or permit
If the motor vehicle accident only resulted in property damage, the driver is still responsible for following certain procedures before leaving the scene of the collision. The driver must provide the same pieces of information to law enforcement. Additionally, if the driver hits an unattended vehicle, they are responsible for providing the required information to the vehicle’s owner by locating the owner, reporting the information to law enforcement, or leaving the written information in a conspicuous place near or on the damaged vehicle. A Bloomington attorney could fully explain these requirements and how they apply to a particular hit and run case.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Both the driver who caused the collision and all other drivers involved in the accident must remain at the scene, even when only property damage occurs.
In an accident that causes a death, a driver may be subject to felony charges that carry penalties of up to three years in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. For collisions that cause great bodily harm to someone involved, the driver can face felony charges resulting in up to two years’ imprisonment and a $4,000 fine. For accidents that cause substantial bodily harm, the sentence is up to one year in jail and $3,000 in fines.
When there is only property damage, a driver can face gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor charges.
Defense to Hit and Run Allegations
Minnesota law defines one affirmative defense for drivers who leave the scene of an accident without properly following collision procedures. A driver may invoke this defense if they left the scene of the accident to transport an individual who was suffering immediately demonstrable physical injuries for emergency medical assistance. The driver must then notify law enforcement as soon as possible after pursuing the medical care.
An experienced Bloomington attorney could help a driver involved in a hit and run determine whether this defense, or any others, may apply to their case.
A Bloomington Hit and Run Lawyer Could Offer Skilled Representation
If you face criminal charges relating to allegedly leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident, a Bloomington hit and run lawyer could help guide you through your case. An attorney with extensive experience representing defendants accused of fleeing the scene could work to dismiss the charges against you or reduce the penalties associated with a conviction. Call today to speak to one of our skilled attorneys.