hit and run

Every person driving in Virginia has specific rules to follow if they get into an accident. The rules exist so that anyone hurt can get help. These laws also help compensate innocent people after an accident causing property damage. Despite this clear-cut rule, many drivers get caught leaving the scene in Virginia each year. 

You need a tough and experienced advocate if police suspect you of leaving the scene of an accident. You face jail time and other significant consequences if you get convicted. Hit & run defense lawyer Michael A. Pignone is a hard-hitting and aggressive advocate. He could help put you in the best position to get the best possible outcome—or even get your case dismissed.

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Manassas Hit and Run Lawyer Explains Why Some People Run from an Accident Scene

It’s hard to understand why people run from an accident scene. Researchers suggest several reasons why people do. Basically, various factors can lead you to panic. And when you panic, it’s tough to make good decisions.

Fear of Getting in Trouble

Fear of getting in trouble can lead to panic and is the most compelling reason people flee the scene. In the aftermath of an accident, drivers operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol might run because they are over the limit or impaired. They might also run because they know they have outstanding arrest warrants. Additionally, someone might run because they have no insurance or were driving without a license. 

Financial Fear

A driver might panic and take off for financial reasons, too. For instance, maybe they know they can’t afford to pay their insurance deductible. Or they know they don’t have enough insurance coverage to pay for damages they’ve caused. Other people might think that the damage simply isn’t significant enough to report.

Apathy and Adrenaline

Even though self-preservation is the strongest motivator to leave the scene of an accident, there are two other motivating factors. Some people don’t use good judgment or have not fully developed their moral character. In other words, they just don’t care. 

Also, the human brain can trick you into acting strangely—even before you’ve had a chance to think through your decisions. Adrenaline rushes through your body in the moments after an accident. The surge of adrenaline can make people emotional and turn on their flight-or-fight response. If you act instinctually at moments like this, it can get you into a great deal of trouble. 

Hit & Run Defense Attorney Explains Virginia Law

Sometimes people get confused about the law. You have to follow Virginia’s hit-and-run law even if you didn’t cause the accident. Suppose that you are driving down a dark road on a rainy night and an object appears in front of you without warning, and you hit it. Did you cause the accident? No, but you still have to stop and figure out what happened.

A driver involved in an accident where a person dies, suffers an injury, or experiences property damage has several obligations. The first is to stop. Next, the driver has to notify the state or local police about the crash and then identify themselves to law enforcement. The driver has to give the same information to the other driver or pedestrian involved in the accident. Finally, the driver must render aid to any injured person. The law says the driver must bring the injured person to a doctor, surgeon, or hospital. Calling the police and asking for an ambulance is appropriate. 

An injured driver is not exempt from identifying themselves. The law requires them to notify the police about the crash or locate the owner of the property damaged in the crash as soon as possible. The driver has to provide their name, address, driver’s license number, and registration number.

Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Virginia

Some states only require someone to report an accident involving property damage if there is less than a certain amount of damage. Virginia has no such rule. If convicted of a hit-and-run involving less than $1,000 in damage, you face a Class 1 misdemeanor. That means you could spend up to one year in jail and pay a fine of up to $2,500. 

A hit-and-run accident that results in death, personal injury, or property damage exceeding $1,000 is a Class 5 felony. The maximum sentence for a Class 5 felony in Virginia is 10 years in state prison, with a minimum of one year behind bars. However, the judge or jury could send you to jail for no more than one year at their discretion. You may also pay a fine of up to $2,500. 

Additional Penalties

The Virginia DMW will revoke your license if you are convicted of leaving the scene. The length of your revocation depends on your driving history. You have no driving privileges whatsoever after the DMV revokes your license. 

You have to wait for the revocation to end and complete several requirements before getting your license back. Some of those requirements include:

  • Purchasing appropriate auto insurance coverage;
  • Attending a driving improvement clinic;
  • Providing proof of payment of all fees;
  • Paying the DMV reinstatement fee; and
  • Paying applicable licensing fees.

You will have at least six points added to your Virginia driving record. These points will stay on your record for 11 years. 

Why You Need a Manassas Hit And Run Attorney

Law enforcement officers take hit-and-run crashes seriously, especially when someone dies or sustains serious injuries. However, they can make mistakes because they rush to solve the case. An experienced and skilled Manassas hit & run defense attorney understands how to exploit police mistakes to help their client. 

Failing to identify the hit-and-run driver is one of the biggest mistakes officers make during these investigations. The police have to prove that you were driving and not simply that your car was involved. Without a statement from you or a witness who can put you behind the wheel, the police could have difficulty proving who drove.

Call the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone Today

Our firm offers free, no-obligation consultations. So call us today to schedule one if you have hit-and-run charges or the police suspect you of leaving the scene. The sooner you call our office, the sooner we can get to work protecting your rights. Our hit-and-run defense attorney is a member of the Top 100 trial lawyers under 40, Top 100 lawyers as named by the National Advocates, and is included on the SuperLawyers list. You can trust us with your future.

Our experienced lawyer handles other types of criminal defense cases as well, including: