You knew you should have stayed at the scene of the accident, but you weren’t thinking clearly—and all you could think about was getting home. You would give anything to go back and correct the mistake, but you doubt a judge is going to let you go simply because you’re sorry. Are you really expected to go to jail for a hit and run just because of a moment of panic?
Virginia Drivers May Use These Hit and Run Defenses
According to Virginia law, any driver involved in an accident is required to remain at the scene of the crash and make a report to law enforcement. He or she is also required by law to offer assistance to injured parties at the scene.
However, there are some cases where it is not possible for a driver to comply with these requirements. For example, drivers may not be held liable for leaving the scene if:
- They are injured. A driver is excused from reporting the accident immediately if he is injured or unconscious and requires medical treatment. However, he must still report the crash as soon as he is able.
- They are in danger. If the driver had reason to believe that his personal safety (or the safety of his passengers) was at risk, he may leave the accident scene if he calls 911 or otherwise notifies law enforcement as soon as he is able.
- There was an emergency in progress. Some hit and run accidents occur as a result of a driver speeding to get a passenger to the hospital or in order to prevent a life-or-death situation. These cases are rare, and judges typically will not allow these defenses unless the situation is life-threatening.
- The driver was unaware of the accident. In order to be held liable for a hit and run, a driver must be aware that an accident occurred. While drivers cannot be charged with knowingly causing an accident, they may still be cited for negligence or reckless driving if they did not notice that they had caused injury or damage.
- The driver was involuntarily intoxicated. Unlike drunk driving, involuntary intoxication occurs when a person is suffering from unknown medication side effects or from a medical condition at the time of a crash.
If you were intoxicated, distracted, or otherwise impaired, this is not a valid defense for leaving an accident scene. However, the legal team at the Easley Law Firm can help you build a defense and fight for minimal sentencing after your accident. Call us today at (888) 386-3898 or learn more about your options in our free guide, The Criminal Legal Process In Virginia.