When Panic Pushes Minnesota Drivers to Commit Hit-and-Runs
By their very nature, car accidents are startling and unexpected. It’s not uncommon for someone to feel confused and disoriented immediately after an accident, a state of mind that can lead to panic.
A car accident doesn’t automatically hold you criminally culpable, but not dealing with it properly might. If you panic and flee the scene of an accident, you can be on the hook for criminal charges in Minnesota.
Here’s what you need to know about leaving the scene of an accident, known as a “hit and run”, and how to respond if you didn’t stick around until the police showed up at an accident.
What Minnesota Law Says
Under the law, any person involved in an accident has a duty to stop as soon as possible without blocking traffic. It does not matter if the struck vehicle is occupied or unoccupied.
If someone is inside the vehicle, you are obligated to investigate. If you suspect or see bodily injury or death, you must contact law enforcement.
The only exception to the rule: if you suffer bodily damage and must be taken to the hospital to receive treatment. Though, in that case, it’s vital for anyone involved in the accident to contact law enforcement as soon as they reasonably can.
The Consequences of a Hit and Run
Another passenger’s death in the accident can lead to felony charges, which may result in up to three years in prison and fines as high as $5,000.
If the accident results in great bodily harm to another person, you may be charged with a gross misdemeanor, depending on the severity of the injuries. Being found guilty may send you to prison for up to two years and make you responsible for fines up to $3,000.
If no injuries resulted from the accident, but you still are found guilty of leaving the scene, it may only evoke a misdemeanor charge, punishable by three months in jail and $1,000 maximum fines.
Other Consequences of a Hit and Run
If found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident, jail time and fines aren’t the only consequences.
If a guilty case involves injury, you may lose your driver’s license for a certain period of time. The length of suspension depends on your driving record.
Problems with Work
For jobs that require you to drive, losing your license may result in job loss.
It’s also important to remember that a conviction creates a permanent criminal record. This can render future employment or professional licensure difficult.
If you have left the scene of an accident, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. They’ll help you follow procedure to properly turn yourself in to the police.
About the Author:
Andrew T. Poole is a Minnesota native who has served in the Army for more than 18 years and is currently a JAG lawyer in the Army Reserves in addition to serving as a partner at LaCourse, Poole & Envall. He has handled thousands of criminal and family law cases over the course of his career and has a firm belief that all hardworking Minnesotans should be entitled to the best possible legal counsel. Mr. Poole boasts a 10/10 Superb rating on Avvo, is Lead Counsel rated, and has been recognized multiple times by SuperLawyers, National Trial Lawyers, and others for his work.