A car struck David Schultz, 38, while he walked in the middle of the road in Harnett County last May. Investigators believe the car dragged him along the road for several feet. The driver, who has not yet been identified, did not stop at the scene and Mr. Schultz died on the road. Although no witnesses have come forward, Shirley Becker, Mr. Schultz’s girlfriend, told state troopers that Mr. Schultz had been drinking heavily at a party earlier that night.
What should I do if I am in an auto accident?
If you are involved in an auto accident, it can be a time of acute stress and anxiety. However, under North Carolina law, you are immediately subject to a number of legal duties, depending on the circumstances:
Stop your vehicle in a safe place. After any auto accident involving property damage, injury or death, you must stop your vehicle in a safe place close to the scene of the accident, and remain there until a law enforcement officer completes an investigation into the crash, or allows you to leave.
Provide your details. If you cause injury because of an accident, you must provide your name, address, license plate and driver’s license number to the injured parties or owners of the affected vehicles. If you damaged property and do not know who the owner is, you should provide the information to a police officer, or leave a note in a conspicuous place.
Assist any victims. You must provide reasonable assistance to any injured victims, especially medical assistance if required.
Even if you are unaware of the crash, you can be held liable for failing to meet your obligations if you reasonably ought to have known of the crash.
What are the penalties for hit and run?
The penalties you could face for failing to stop after an auto accident depend on the severity of the injuries and damage resulting from the accident. North Carolina uses structured sentencing, which accounts for previous convictions, and mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
If the accident led to property damage only, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of 120 days in prison and the possibility of a significant fine.
If you caused minor injury, you could face a prison sentence of up to 25 months in jail.
Fleeing the scene after an accident that results in serious injury or death could lead to up to 41 months imprisonment, with a minimum sentence of 10 months for a first offense with mitigating circumstances.
Aggravating circumstances includes driving while under the influence of alcohol and reckless driving.
In all cases, the penalties for hit and run are substantial, and can have negative consequences beyond the penalties themselves. If you have been arrested for a hit and run offense, make sure you obtain aggressive defense representation.
Posted in Criminal Defense | Tagged criminal defense, hit and run accidents, NC criminal defense lawyer, North Carolina criminal law