INVOLVED IN A MINOR FENDER BENDER? YOU COULD BE CHARGED WITH MISDEMEANOR HIT AND RUN
You may be aware that if you’re involved in a car accident you are required, by law, to:
- Stop your car and pull over; [i]
- Give the other driver your name and address;[ii]
- If the vehicle you’re driving isn’t yours, provide the name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle;[iii] and
- If asked to so by the other driver, present the vehicle’s registration as well as your driver’s license.[iv]
But did you know that if you hit a parked car and damage it in any way,[v] you must leave a note?[vi] In addition to your name and address and the name and address of the vehicle’s registered owner, the note must also include:
- A statement of circumstances explaining what happened.[vii]
You are also required, by law, to:
- Call the police and notify them of the collision.[viii]
In essence, the law requires you to admit your involvement in writing and then report yourself to the police. If you hit a parked car and fail to leave a note[ix], you could be charged with misdemeanor hit and run.
The Consequences of Misdemeanor Hit and Run
If you are involved in a car collision, fail to follow even one of the requirements above, and the police are called, you may be arrested for misdemeanor hit and run. A conviction for this crime is punishable by up to 6 months in jail, or a fine of up to $1,000, or both.[x]
But the conviction can also inhibit your ability to drive. A conviction for hit and run adds two points to your driving record and can serve as grounds to suspend your license for up to 6 months.[xi] The points will remain on your driving record for 13 years[xii] and will raise your car insurance premiums. Beware: If you have too many points within a specific period of time, the DMV may suspend or even revoke your driver’s license.[xiii]
A misdemeanor hit-and-run conviction may also harm your job prospects. An employer may discover the conviction through a background check. Or you may be asked, during the hiring process, if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime. You must continue disclosing the conviction, when asked by a potential employer, until you are able to expunge it.[xiv]
Misdemeanor Hit and Run Applies to Property (Even Pets), Not Just Cars
The crime of hit and run applies whenever a driver collides with and damages property. Property may include another vehicle (such as another car), a stationary object (like a fence), or even a pet.[xv]
Any time a driver hits and damages the property of another, she must stop and, at minimum, provide her name and address to the owner of the property.[xvi]
It should be noted that hit and run is punishable as a misdemeanor when a driver damages another’s property. But if the driver injures a person, then the crime is punishable as either a misdemeanor or a felony[xvii] and the consequences will be more severe.[xviii]
Contact a Professional for Help with Your Hit and Run Case
Getting into a minor car accident can have major consequences. Every time a driver damages property, there is a litany of things she must do. The driver is required to turn over certain information, even if she is unaware of her obligation to do so. In this instance, ignorance of the law is no defense.
Michael J. Ocampo, Attorney at Law, is a skilled attorney and a former deputy district attorney. After reviewing your case, Michael will identify ways to attack the allegation of misdemeanor hit and run and will then strive to help you achieve the best outcome for your unique situation.
[i] Vehicle Code §20002(a)(1).
[ii] Vehicle Code §20002(a)(1). If you are involved in a collision with another driver and the police are called, you must also exchange the following information: driver’s license numbers, vehicle identification numbers, name and address of each driver’s car insurance provider, each driver’s car insurance policy number. Failure to exchange this information after an accident is a violation separate from hit and run and is punishable as an infraction by a fine of up to $250. Vehicle Code §§16025(a)(1), (a)(2), (b).
[iii] Vehicle Code §20002(a)(1).
[iv] Vehicle Code §20002(a)(1), CALCRIM 2150.
[v] Vehicle Code §20002(a), CALCRIM 2150.
[vi] Vehicle Code §20002(a)(2).
[vii] “The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in damage to any property, including vehicles, shall immediately stop[.] … The driver shall also immediately … [l]eave in a conspicuous place on the vehicle or other property damaged … a statement of the circumstances thereof and shall without unnecessary delay notify the police department of the city wherein the collision occurred[.]” Vehicle Code §20002(a)(2).
[viii] The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in damage to any property, including vehicles, shall immediately stop[.] … The driver shall also immediately … [l]eave in a conspicuous place on the vehicle or other property damaged … a statement of the circumstances thereof and shall without unnecessary delay notify the police department of the city wherein the collision occurred[.]” Vehicle Code §20002(a)(2).
[ix] Note: The note must be placed on the parked car itself. Vehicle Code §20002(a)(2).
[x] Vehicle Code §20002(c).
[xi] Vehicle Code §§12810(a), 13201(a).
[xiii]https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/dmv_content_en/dmv/dl/driversafety/neg_operator#two_1. See also Vehicle Code §§12810(a), 12810.5(a).
[xiv] Unless a conviction has been expunged pursuant to Penal Code §1203.4. “No employer, whether a public agency or private individual or corporation, shall ask an applicant for employment to disclose … information concerning … a conviction that has been judicially dismissed or ordered sealed pursuant to law, including, but not limited to, [Penal Code] Sections 1203.4[.]” Labor Code §432.7(a)(1). See also 2 California Code of Regulations (“C.C.R.”) §11017.1(b)(3).
[xv] “A dog is regarded in this state as property. … The same is true of any other domestic animal.” People v. Fimbres (1930) 107 Cal.App.Supp. 778, 780.
[xvi] Vehicle Code §20002(a).
[xvii] Vehicle Code §§20001(b).
[xviii] Vehicle Code §§20001(b), (c).