Traffic laws define a hit and run as a criminal offense in which a driver caused or was involved in a collision with another vehicle, property, or individual and then fails to stop and provide the following:
- Their name;
- Their driver’s license number;
- The name of their insurance provider;
- Their insurance policy number;
- Their license plate number; and
- Any other information required by statute.
The previously listed information must be provided to the injured party, witnesses, and law enforcement officers. If the incident only results in property damage and no individual was physically injured, it may be sufficient for the offending party to attach a note to the damaged property that includes the above information.
Although the specifics vary by state, states are fairly consistent in requiring that the parties involved in an accident are required to stop and exchange information with one another. There are some states that require that an offending party also file a police report in addition to leaving their information, regardless of whether the parties involved wish to do so.
How Do the Police Track Down the Driver in a Hit and Run?
In order to trade down drivers in hit and run accidents, law enforcement will primarily use evidence and eyewitnesses. As soon as an individual calls law enforcement to report the hit and run, they will attempt to preserve as much evidence from the collision scene as possible.
This evidence may include footage that is obtained from surveillance cameras in the area, especially in parking lots and parking garages. In many cases, local businesses may be sources of surveillance camera footage that may lead to identifying the vehicle that caused the collision.
Evidence may also be obtained in the form of videos from witnesses on their cell phones. So many individuals now carry cell phones with cameras, this is becoming a much more common form of evidence.
Dashboard cameras may also provide footage that can be used as evidence. Vehicle and property damage, for example, the paint that is left behind when the hit and run was committed, are other forms of evidence.
Eyewitnesses are often valuable assets when law enforcement is attempting to track down a driver who was responsible for a hit and run collision. An eyewitness will often make their own accident report in addition to the report that is made by the affected driver.
Eyewitnesses often note or photograph the offender’s license plate number. They may also be able to provide a description of the vehicle that was responsible, including make, model, and color.
In addition, there are other individuals who may be able to provide important information, including:
- Individuals who are in parking lots;
- Other drivers who were in the area;
- Pedestrians; and
- Employees of nearby businesses.
When Can I be Charged with a Hit and Run?
An individual may be charged with a hit and run when they leave the scene of an accident. It is important to note that even if the individual did not cause the accident, they should not leave the scene.
In the State of Nevada, a hit and run may be classified as a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending on the circumstances of the accident. Under state law, an individual is required to notify law enforcement when they have been involved in an accident.
What is a Misdemeanor Hit and Run in Nevada?
Misdemeanor hit and run occurs when an individual leaves the scene of an accident. An individual may or may not have caused property damage.
The law requires an individual to notify the owner of the property they have damaged during the accident. If the driver does not notify the owner, they can be charged with a hit and run.
Any individual who is found guilty of hit and run may face the misdemeanor punishment of:
- Six months in county jail;
- $1,000 fine; or
- A combination of both.
What is Felony Hit and Run in Nevada?
There are certain circumstances that may cause a hit and run charge to be elevated to a felony offense. This may occur in cases where the hit and run:
- Leads to the severe bodily injury or death of another person;
- Results in serious damages to property;
- it is important to note that criminal statutes may list the requisite dollar amount that the damage needs to exceed;
- Happens when an individual is attempting to evade law enforcement or involves the striking of a law enforcement car or law enforcement officer;
- Involves driving under the influence (DUI) or where drunk driving is a factor; or
- Causes injury to an animal, depending on the laws of the state.
When a hit and run is charged as a felony, it may result in much harsher penalties, for example, higher criminal fines and terms of imprisonment for at least one year or longer.
Thus, there is virtually no difference if the hit and run occurred on a public road or in a private area. Regardless of whether a driver caused the hit and run or was involved in a hit and run, they still have a duty to remain at the scene and exchange information for any damages that resulted from the collision.
It is important to note that felony hit and run is a more serious charge than misdemeanor hit and run. A felony charge results when the offender causes serious bodily injury or death to a victim.
What is Serious Bodily Injury?
Serious bodily injury is physical harm sustained by an individual that interferes with their health, well-being, and comfort for a short period of time.
What is the Punishment for Felony Hit and Run?
A felony hit and run charge is a Category B felony. The punishment for a conviction of this charge includes:
- Eight to 20 years in state prison;
- $10,000 fine; or
- Fines and prison time.
Are There Any Defenses for a Hit and Run?
It may be difficult for an individual to find a legal defense to a hit and run charge. The defenses that do exist do not always provide an offender with a complete release from any liability resulting from their decision to flee the scene, including:
- Involuntary intoxication or diminished capacity: If an individual believes they were drugged, they could use involuntary intoxication as a defense to a hit and run charge;
- An example of this would be if an individual believes they were drugged, which resulted in them becoming involuntarily intoxicated and then they were involved in the hit and run accident;
- Responding to an emergency: Responding to an emergency may be an effective defense, if an individual fled the accident scene because they were driving to the hospital, or elsewhere, because of an emergency, for example, driving someone in labor to the hospital;
- Ultimately, it is up to the authorities of that specific jurisdiction to determine whether the circumstances constituted an actual emergency so as to excuse the individual’s failure to remain at the scene and provide required information; or
- Lack of knowledge: This defense comes into play when an individual leaves a car accident scene thinking there has been no damage to property or injuries to other individuals;
- These drivers may still be found responsible for negligence or reckless driving.
Do I Need an Attorney to Represent Me in My Hit and Run Case?
If you have been charged with a hit and run in Nevada, whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony charge, it is in your best interests to have the assistance of a Nevada criminal attorney who can represent you in your hit and run case.
Criminal convictions can affect many more aspects of your life than just your criminal record, including your employment and custody or visitation with your children, if you have any.