I Just Got a Misdemeanor Hit and Run on a Parked Car, What Should I Expect?

Written by James Hirby | Fact checked by The Law Dictionary staff |  

Hit-and-run incidents result in arrests more often than you might expect. While it might seem tempting to leave the scene of an accident between your vehicle and a parked car, the prevalence of security cameras and "nosy neighbors" may dramatically increase the risks associated with this behavior. Thanks to an increase in the number of storefronts and businesses that use motion-sensing floodlights, you may even be called to account for a hit-and-run accident that occurs at night. If you choose to flee the scene, you must be prepared to face some consequences.

Hit-and-run accidents are usually charged as misdemeanors. In most states, a first offense is punishable by a jail term that lasts between one and three months and a fine that may range between $500 and $1,000. The perennial overcrowding problems that most state prison systems currently face make it relatively unlikely that your sentence will involve any jail time.

In most situations, you'll receive a suspended sentence that may require some combination of unsupervised probation, community service hours and driver-retraining classes. For subsequent offenses, this many not be the case. Of course, you may have to spend some time in jail while you're awaiting your arraignment or trial.

Like DUIs and other vehicular crimes, hit-and-run offenses are also considered traffic violations in most states. Hit-and-run and "leaving the scene" charges may add as many as six points to your license, which may be enough to disqualify you from consideration for any job that involves the operation of a motor vehicle. These charges are also likely to increase your monthly insurance premiums. While you won't have to obtain an SR-22 from your insurance company after your hit-and-run conviction, you can expect your premiums to increase by 50 percent or more as soon as your insurer learns what happened.

After you're charged with a hit-and-run, you should contact a lawyer who may be able to inject some uncertainty into your case. Your lawyer may argue that the incident in question occurred without your knowledge or that the victim misplaced the contact and insurance information that you left on his or her car. Judges who are receptive to these kinds of circumstantial arguments may reduce or eliminate the charges altogether. In certain states, your lawyer may also be able to broker a "civil compromise" that absolves you of criminal liability for your actions provided that you reimburse your victim.

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