Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious crime, and Illinois prosecutors might not take kindly to your argument that you were too confused or shaken to stop. Even if the accident only caused property damage, you might face a criminal charge under Illinois statutes. Please contact a criminal defense lawyer in DuPage County for help with your defense.
What the Law Says about Stopping
Several laws lay out a driver’s obligations after an accident. Collectively, they require the following:
- “Immediately stop” your vehicle at the scene or as close as possible without blocking traffic (625 ILCS 5/11-401)
- Share your name, address, registration number, and the identity of who owns the vehicle (625 ILCS 5/11-403)
- Share your driver’s license, if asked
- Render reasonable assistance to anyone injured in the wreck, including taking them to the doctor or hospital, if necessary
- If the vehicle is unoccupied, then find and notify the owner or provide the required information in a “conspicuous place” on the vehicle or inside it (625 ILCS 5/11-404)
Leaving the scene when there has only been property damage is a misdemeanor charge. Leaving when there has been bodily injury is a felony.
How We Can Help
As you can see, the requirements are very specific. Motorists need to immediately stop — not drive down the road and then walk back. Sometimes, a police officer will see a person strike a vehicle and immediately assume the driver is fleeing when, in reality, the driver is trying to pull over without obstructing traffic.
At our firm, we always meet with clients to get their side of the story. Sometimes, people are so shaken that they were not thinking clearly immediately after the crash. This is perfectly understandable. In other cases, they might have no idea they clipped a pedestrian, especially if the contact was slight. Before a lawyer can fight to clear your name, you need to meet to discuss what you were thinking on the day in question.
Penalties for a Hit and Run Charge
If convicted, a person is facing some stiff penalties that are hard to overcome. Any criminal conviction can come back to haunt you later in life, when applying for a job, for example. The penalties you face will depend on whether you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor:
- Property Damage Only: If you failed to stop after hitting an unattended vehicle, then you can face Class A misdemeanor charges. You can be fined up to $2,500 and face up to one year in jail.
- Hit and Run with Injury: This is a Class 4 felony, which can net a defendant a fine of up to $25,000 and a max of three years in prison.
- Hit and Run with Fatality: If someone died in the hit and run, then the punishment is the steepest of all. You can face a Class 3 felony, which carries a fine of up to $25,000 and up to 5 years in prison. Of course, you could also face other charges as well, but these are the penalties for failing to stop as required.
Speak with a DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyer
The moments following an accident are scary. If you are charged with a hit and run, call 630-953-3000 to speak with a Polish-fluent Lombard traffic violation attorney. At Aldrich & Siedlarz Law, P.C., our consultations are always free.