If you are involved in a “Hit and Run” you can be charged with the crime of Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver. This is a serious crime that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the facts involved. If convicted you can face jail time, your license will be suspended or revoked and you’ll be required to carry SR-22 auto insurance for a minimum of three years.
[toggle_container]The Duties of a Driver: You are required to fulfill certain duties if you are involved in a traffic collision that causes physical injury or property damage.
If you are involved in a traffic accident or collision, you must:
- Stop at Once
Stop at the accident scene or as close as possible without needlessly blocking or endangering other traffic.
- Render Aid
Give any reasonable aid to injured persons. Remember, injured people should never be moved carelessly. In many cases, they should not be moved at all until it is possible to get an ambulance or someone trained in first aid to the scene. If a driver is involved in an accident in which a person is killed or rendered unconscious, the driver is required to remain at the scene of the accident until a police officer arrives.
- Exchange Information (printable checklist to keep in your car)
Give to the other driver, passengers in the vehicle, or any injured pedestrian your:
- Driver license number;
- License plate number of your vehicle; and
- your insurance information.
- Unattended Vehicles/Property/Animals
- If you hit an unoccupied vehicle, try to find the owner. If you cannot find the owner, leave a note that identifies you as the person who hit the unattended vehicle and how to contact you. You are required by law to write your name and address on the note, and a brief description of what happened.
- If you damage property other than a motor vehicle, you also must try to find the owner or someone in charge of the property to report the damage.
- If you hit and injure an animal, stop and make an effort to check the extent of injury. Give reasonable attention to the animal. What you can do may vary with traffic hazards at the time or the animal’s demeanor. If possible, you should try to get the animal out of the way of traffic. Immediately report the animal’s injuries to its owner. If you are unable to locate the owner, report the injuries to the nearest police agency.
- Report the Accident to DMV if required — You must file an Oregon Traffic Accident and Insurance Report with DMV within 72 hours if any of the below occurs:
- Damage to the vehicle you were driving is over $1,500;
- Damage to any vehicle is over $1,500 and any vehicle is towed from the scene as a result of damages from this accident;
- Injury or death resulted from this accident; or
- Damages to any one person’s property other than a vehicle involved in this accident is over $1,500.
[toggle_container]Penalties Upon Conviction: Depending on the circumstances of a Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver arrest your charges will range for a Class A Misdemeanor up to a Class B Felony.
- Auto accidents involving property damage
- If you leave the scene of an accident that resulted in property damage, the charge you face is a Class A Misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and fines up to $6250. You will also face a driver license suspension and must carry SR-22 insurance for a period of 3 years following the termination of your driver license suspension.
- Auto accidents involving physical injury/serious physical injury
- If you leave the scene of an accident that resulted in physical injury, the charge you face is a Class C felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and fines reaching $125,000. You will also face a driver license suspension and must carry SR-22 insurance for a period of 3 years following the termination of your suspension.
- If you leave the scene of an accident that results in serious physical injury, the charge you face is a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $210,000. You will also face a driver license suspension and must carry SR-22 insurance for a period of 3 years following the termination of your suspension.
- Serious physical injury: “injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious and protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.” ORS 161.015(8).
[toggle_container]Strategies to Avoid Conviction:
There are numerous tactics a qualified defense attorney can use to avoid a conviction for Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver.
- Deferred Sentencing
- In certain jurisdictions your defense attorney may negotiate a deferred sentence. A deferred sentence gives a defendant an opportunity to complete a series of requirements such as obeying all laws, performing community service and/or paying a fine within a set period of time. If the defendant successfully completes all these requirements on time the court will dismiss the charges. If, however, the defendant does not complete the requirements the court will convict and sentence the defendant accordingly.
- Civil Compromise
- In certain situations your defense attorney can negotiate a money settlement with the victim of a crime. If the victim is satisfied your attorney can file a motion with the court to dismiss the criminal charge. Warning: Contacting the victim of a crime can be a violation of your release agreement and you can be charged with contempt of court. A qualified defense attorney knows the legal process to properly contact a victim and negotiate a civil compromise on your behalf.
- Reduction to Violation
- Depending on the facts of your case and the jurisdiction your defense attorney may be able to negotiate a reduction of your criminal charge to a violation. Reduction to a violation helps you avoid criminal history and many of the harsh penalties that go along with a criminal conviction.
- Jury Trial
- Every person charged of a crime has the right to a jury trial. At a jury trial the prosecutor must prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. A skilled defense attorney will work to place doubt in the minds of the jurors and undercut the prosecution’s case. If you are found not guilty at a jury trial the charge can never be used against you.