Charged with a Crime from a Hit and Run in NJ
New Jersey Hit and Run Defense Lawyers
Driving down a side street, you realize you are about to miss your turn. Making a quick lane change to get over to your right, you hear tires screeching and then feel a jolt. Looking over your right shoulder, you realize you cannot see if you hit another car. It is dark, and the street is poorly lit. Maybe they were in your blind spot, or perhaps you forgot to look before you changed lanes. Since you cannot see the other car, you figure you hit something on the road, or if you did hit a car, the other vehicle is still moving forward, so you figure they are fine, and you are late for a dinner date. You keep going, make your right turn and speed off to your destination. As it turns out, they are not okay. And they managed to take down your license plate. Now the police want to speak to you about the hit and run accident.
What Happens if You Flee an Accident where You Hit Something in NJ?
By law in New Jersey, one who is involved in an accident must stop their vehicle to assess the damage to the car or other property they may have hit. In that way, the driver can see if someone is injured or needs assistance. Legally, they are compelled to assist other accident victims, whether they are injured or not. At a minimum, they must stop and verify whether the accident damaged vehicles or injured drivers or passengers, so they can provide driver’s license, vehicle registration, contact information, and insurance cards to the other parties, witnesses, and the police if they arrive at the scene.
If they do not stop, they may be charged with a hit-and-run crime, meaning they left the accident scene. Even if they hit a parked car, a driver must stop and wait for the driver or leave a note where the driver can see it and include your name and contact information. And if the driver hits a tree, street lamp, wall, or other property, they must report it to the police. Furthermore, in the event of an auto accident, the driver or drivers must wait for the authorities. And if anyone is injured, the other participant or participants must call for help and wait until help arrives.
Punishments for Hit and Run Accidents if No One gets Injured
A hit-and-run accident that leaves no one injured results in a lesser punishment for the accused than one with injuries or death. For a non-injury hit and run, the driver risks 30 days in jail and up to $400.00 in fines, plus a six-month driver’s license suspension and two points on their record maintained by the Division of Motor Vehicles. A New Jersey driver can get a total of 12 points on their driving record before losing their license. Additionally, a conviction for a hit and run results in an insurance premium increase. Additionally, for multiple hit and run offenses, a driver stands to lose their license for a year, risk paying $600.00 in fines, and spend up to 90 days in jail, and minimally 30 days.
How New Jersey Punishes Hit and Runs when Someone gets Seriously Injured or Dies
If someone was hurt in the accident, even slightly, the penalties rise significantly. The worst penalties, however, fall on the one who flees the scene of a fatality or severe and life-altering injury. Injury or death hit and run accidents result in much steeper penalties: up to $5,000.00 in fines, six months in jail, and a year-long license suspension. The prosecutor can charge a driver who left the scene of a severe injury accident with a traffic violation and several other crimes. And if it is not the driver’s first offense and the accident results in a severe injury, the convicted driver may have their driver’s license permanently revoked.
The law is stringent when it comes to deserting those with life-threatening injuries or permanent bodily damage, such as a lost limb or fractured spine. A hit and run driver who fails to render aid by leaving the scene may be guilty of a third degree crime. If found guilty of a hit and run with serious injuries, the driver can go to prison for up to five years unless anyone dies in the accident. Then they are at risk of going to prison for up to ten years. It is a second degree crime to leave a hit and run crash when someone dies. There is a presumption of incarceration for second degree offenses.
If the police believe a driver has committed a hit and run, they may charge the driver with other offenses, like speeding, assault by auto, and DWI if they had drugs or alcohol in their system. Then, the driver’s trouble more than doubles. A fleeing driver may be tied up in the legal system for a long time, and possibly sent to prison for years.
Accused of a Hit and Run in New Jersey? Contact Us for Help Defending Your Case
Even though an accident is overwhelming, it is just not worth fleeing the scene. A hit-and-run accident turns a straightforward civil matter that most victims handle by exchanging information and filing an insurance claim, into a criminal matter if someone is hurt. Failing to stay and report the crash causes a driver to be both civilly and criminally liable, facing possible jail time rather than the inconvenience of stopping and dealing with the results of the accident when it occurs.
If police notify you that they want to speak to you about an accident they believe you fled anywhere in New Jersey, do not talk to the police without an attorney. Although criminal charges from the accident potentially expose you to severe consequences, you do not know what other options are open to you without speaking to a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer with experience handling traffic and criminal violations. If you did not know that you were involved in an accident or did not know you hit another car driving on the road, you may not be guilty of hit and run, or you might not be sentenced as harshly for an injury accident.
Thus, if you believe you were involved in a hit-and-run accident, obtain the assistance of the legal team at The Tormey Law Firm, which handles hit-and-run cases. The outlook for your case may not be as bleak as it seems. Contact us at (201)-556-1570 for a free and confidential consultation and get help with protecting your rights today.