Discover the difference between an attended and unattended hit and run violation in California so you know what you need to do to protect your interests.
Were you involved in a hit and run crime?
Before you can make that determination, you need to know the difference between the two different types of hit and run crimes in California.
Take a look at the information below for a better understanding of hit and run crimes so you know what action you need to take to protect your interest legally.
Let’s get started.
What’s the difference between attended and unattended hit and run?
A hit and run violation is the act of causing a traffic accident and not stopping.
There are two types of hit and run accidents – unattended hit and run and attended hit and run.
Unlike minor traffic violations, including running a red light or speeding, a hit and run violation is considered a serious traffic violation. You are required to stop in the event of an accident regardless if you were the cause of the accident, another driver caused the accident, or something else caused the accident.
Whether you were speeding or driving under the influence and caused an accident, you are required to stop and exchange information or report the accident accordingly. If you fail to do this, you could be guilty of a hit-and-run crime.
Let’s take a closer look at the two types of hit and run accidents in California.
Unattended hit and run
Unattended hit-and-run occurs in situations where a driver strikes an unattended vehicle or property where no person was hurt. The law requires the operator of the vehicle that hits the unattended vehicle must immediately stop and provide the other vehicle’s owner with the driver’s name and address; or, place a note containing that information in a conspicuous place (like the windshield of the car).
The second case is if the driver strikes property other than another vehicle, where no one is hurt. The requirement, in this case, is for the driver to take reasonable steps to notify the owner or person in charge of the damaged property of the same information (the driver’s name and address). This may mean leaving that information in a written note in a conspicuous location on the damaged property.
Attended hit and run
If a driver knows that he or she has been involved in an accident with a vehicle that is occupied (thus, attended), the legal requirement is to provide his or her name, address, insurance company, insurance policy number, and vehicle license number (along with displaying his or her driver’s’ license) to the other driver.
If the other person is injured, the driver must also provide reasonable assistance, which may include transporting to a hospital.
If there is no injury involved (only the vehicles are damaged), the drivers are required to move the damaged vehicles to a suitable location (usually off the road) as soon as possible. Moving of vehicles does not affect fault for the accident.
Hitting a parked car or person and then driving off without leaving name and address information would most likely be a hit and run crime.
The criminal penalties for hit and run in California
California recognizes that although hit and run is always a serious traffic offense, there is a difference between property damage and personal injury.
If the hit and run accident causes property damage, it is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of not more than $1,000; or both, imprisonment and fine.
If an injury is caused to someone other than the driver, the case is known as a “wobbler,” which means the prosecutor can charge the driver with either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the seriousness of the injury as well as the criminal record of the driver, if any.
The misdemeanor penalty is up to one year in jail, a fine between $1,000 and $10,000; or, both imprisonment and fine.
The felony penalty is up to three years in jail; a fine between $1,000 and $10,000; or, both imprisonment and fine.
Serious bodily injury or death
Cases, where there was serious bodily injury or death, may also be treated as a wobbler, but the penalties are more severe.
The misdemeanor penalty is a minimum of 90 days and up to one year in jail, a fine of $1,000 to $10,000; or, both imprisonment and fine.
It is possible that a judge may waive the 90-day minimum penalty.
A felony conviction carries a penalty of two, three or four years in prison, a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000; or, both imprisonment and fine.
In addition to the criminal penalties listed above, two points can be added to the driver’s DMV driving history that will increase insurance costs.
Other charges can be added for DUI, being an unlicensed driver, or having a suspended license. And in addition to criminal fines, restitution compensation may be required for the injured party.