In North Carolina, there are traffic laws that dictate certain actions that you, as a licensed motorist, must take in the aftermath of an accident. If you fail to adhere to any of these requirements, such as leaving the scene of an accident without disclosing the appropriate information, you may be charged with a hit and run. Committing a “hit and run” offense could lead to administrative penalties, like a license suspension or revocation, or they could lead to criminal charges that warrant serious legal repercussions. The severity of the penalties that could potentially be imposed is based on the damage inflicted on property or other parties involved as a result of an accident.
For the purposes of this article, we will explore North Carolina's hit and run laws and penalties.
Duty to Stop Laws
The state obligates all drivers who are involved in an accident to stop. Once a driver is fully stopped, he or she must provide another driver, passenger, or pedestrian assistance (if needed) and disclose relevant information like their name, number, and insurance company information to another party. This law is even applicable in circumstances in accidents that don't involve other people. Even if a motorist damages property due to an accident, the driver must stop, write down their information, and put it in a place that an owner or occupants can access it. The failure to fulfill the duty to stop may lead to hit and run charges.
Misdemeanor Hit and Run
The penalties that you will face if convicted of these charges are based on the nature of the accident. If an accident only results in property damage and/or minimal injury to another individual, you will be charged with misdemeanor hit and run charges for leaving the scene of an accident.
This offense is a class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 120 days in jail and a discretionary fine.
Felony Hit and Run
However, if the outcome of an auto collision consists of the infliction of serious bodily injury or death of another person. The penalties are significantly more severe.
A felony hit and run charge is classified as a Class H felony, which carries a potential penalty of 4 to 25 months in prison.
North Carolina statutes define serious bodily injury as a “bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death, or that causes permanent disfigurement, coma, a permanent or protracted condition that causes extreme pain, or permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, that results in prolonged hospitalization.”
North Carolina Defense Attorneys
As you can see, leaving the scene of an accident may be penalized with harsh consequences in North Carolina that may compromise your driving privileges and most importantly, your freedom. If you have been accused of this crime, you should consult with the attorneys at Caulder & Valentine. We have extensive experience defending a wide variety of misdemeanor and felony charges like hit and run in the state courts. Contact us today for a consultation.