A car accident is traumatic and threatening. Our bodies naturally respond to one by putting us in flight or fight mode. If you’re unlucky enough to feel a flight instinct after a crash, then you must stop yourself from attempting to flee. Otherwise, you could face severe criminal penalties in New Jersey. Learn why you should never leave the scene of an accident and what to do instead below.
What Happens if I Leave the Scene of an Accident in New Jersey?
Panic, fear, and the instinct to flee an accident scene are all normal responses to a car crash. Despite that, a distraught driver won’t see any leniency from the law if they succumb to these emotions.
If you’re involved in an accident with another car or someone else’s property, then it’s the law to immediately stop. You’re required to stay at the scene of the accident until the police have arrived and given you the okay to leave.
If you choose to leave before the police arrive, then authorities will be forced to hunt you down. They’ll use witnesses’ statements, videos of the crash and any other evidence they can to identify you and your vehicle. Then, they’ll track you down and charge you with a hit and run offense.
If the accident caused damage to someone else’s property and you left the scene, then you could be sentenced to serve up to three months behind bars. You’ll also get hit with a $200-$400 fine, and you may lose your license for up to six months.
If someone was hurt and you left the scene of an accident, then you’ll face even harsher penalties. You could spend up to six months in jail and face fines up to $5,000. You’ll also lose your license for up to a year.
Will I Lose My License Right Away?
In the past, your first-time DWI/DUI charge would result in a loss of your driving privileges. Thankfully, technology has allowed New Jersey to devise laws that can keep you behind the wheel. What you’ll need to do instead is install an interlock ignition device on your car. You’ll have to blow into the device every time you want to start your car. If the technology detects alcohol, then it won’t allow your vehicle to start. While this situation isn’t ideal, an interlock ignition device is preferable for most because it allows you to keep driving.
What You Should Do After an Accident in NJ
The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident should be enough to keep you from acting on your flight instinct. Instead, what you need to do is stop, get to safety and call the authorities. Don’t leave the area until an officer has collected your information and permitted you to leave.
Contact an Experienced Moorestown Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Hit and Run Charges in New Jersey
Were you arrested or charged with a hit and run in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. Attorney Michele Finizio has successfully represented clients charged with hit and runs in Camden, Cherry Hill, Washington Township, Monroe, and throughout New Jersey. Call 856-242-7300 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 9 E. Main St, Moorestown, NJ 08057.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.