Car accidents are, by nature, unexpected. So it makes sense that in the stress and confusion of an accident people forget to take basic steps to avoid further issues accidents bring. While accidents do not automatically implicate criminal culpability, they can trigger criminal charges if not dealt with properly. Understanding the basics on hit and run can help avoid criminal charges, and if you are charged with Hit and Run, then speaking with a criminal defense attorney can mitigate or avoid criminal consequences.
A quick note about wording: “Hit and Run” is actually the unofficial name for Minnesota Statute 169.09, which is technically “Leaving the Scene of an Accident.”
What does the law say? Minnesota law essentially imposes a duty to stop at the scene of any accident as soon as reasonably possible (and without unnecessarily obstructing traffic) to provide your name, address, birthdate, and registration. This is true regardless of whether the vehicle struck by the driver is attended or unattended (the information can be left with a note in a conspicuous place if the vehicle is unattended.) If the vehicle is attended, you must reasonably investigate what was struck. If you know or have reason to know of bodily injury or death, then you must contact law enforcement.
There is, however, an exception to this general rule: if a driver leaves the scene to take an individual suffering bodily damage to receive emergency medical care (though then you must notify a law enforcement agency as soon as reasonably possible once the injured person is under medical care).
Hit and Run charges rise all the way to the felony level if the driver knows, or has reason to know, there was an injury or death. This substantially increases the harshness of potential consequences of a criminal conviction, depending on the severity of the injury.
It is also important to be aware that Hit and Run charges can be accompanied by a license revocation.
While every accident is different, all accidents require you to stop as soon as reasonably possible to provide your information (with the exception noted above). Please contact us with any questions regarding Hit and Run (“Leaving the Scene of an Accident”).