In the event of an automobile accident, it is required under New Jersey law for the driver to stop. If he or she doesn't, it is referred to as leaving the scene of an accident, also known as a “hit and run”. Whether or not there was an injury or the accident involved a parked car or other damaged property, it is the law that the driver must stop and wait at the scene until legal authorities arrive to make a report. If there was an injury as a result of the accident, the driver must call for an ambulance or bring the injured person to the hospital. This is referred to as providing “reasonable assistance”. If you are in an accident and do not stop, you are subject to being charged with a criminal offense.
Penalties for Hit and Run Without Injuries
Depending on the severity of the accident, penalties for hit and run in New Jersey vary. For example, if you hit a parked vehicle, you are responsible for leaving a note in a prominent place on the vehicle you hit to inform the owner of your identity, including your name and address. If it is other property that is damaged, you are required to go to the closest police station to inform the authorities of what happened so the owner of the property can be notified.
For a first offense in which no one was hurt, the penalties for hit and run include between $200 and $400 in fines, up to 30 days in jail, a six month suspension of the driver's license and two points added to the individual's driving record. For a second offense or more, the driver is subject to fines of $400 to $600, a one year suspension of the driver's license and 30 to 90 days in jail. In addition, a guilty plea or a conviction of leaving the scene of an accident will result in two “insurance eligibility points” which will cause the person's insurance premiums to be raised.
Penalties for Hit and Run With Injuries or Deaths
If there are injuries as a result of the accident and you leave the scene, the penalties become harsher. In the event that there are injuries or deaths and it is a first offense, the driver faces fines between $2,500 and $5,000, jail for 180 days and the suspension of his or her driver's license for one year. For a second offense involving injury or death, one's license will be suspended permanently.
When the accident occurs and there is serious bodily injury—meaning that a person suffers from a significant risk of dying or there is the possibility of permanent damage such as losing a limb or disfigurement—the driver will be charged with a third degree criminal offense under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.1. The penalties can range from 3 to 5 years in prison. If someone dies, it is a second degree offense and the penalties range from 5 to 10 years in prison.
Other offenses can also be added to the list of charges if the driver was driving under the influence (DUI). Aggravated assault and assault by auto can also be listed on the complaint.
Speak to an Experienced NJ Traffic Law Attorney
Have you or a loved one been charged with a hit and run in Monmouth County or Ocean County, New Jersey? If so, it's important to protect your rights and have qualified legal representation by contacting Villani & DeLuca in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey right away. The penalties for a hit and run accident depend on many factors and the number of charges can increase depending on the severity of the accident. Don't make a bad mistake worse by failing to have legal representation. Whether the accident occurred in Brick, Asbury Park, Neptune or any other nearby town, Villani & DeLuca's criminal defense attorneys can help you with a hit and run charge.