Leaving The Scene Of An Accident

Leaving The Scene - Overview

Leaving the scene of an accident in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-129 is a very serious offense. If convicted, you face fines and a license suspension. You may also be sentenced to jail if there was an injury involved or property damage that exceeds a certain amount.

New Jersey’s highways are crowded with vehicles. Unfortunately, this means that there are a lot of accidents every day. The worst that you can do is leave the scene of an accident. If you are facing these charges, contact our office.

What you must do if you're in an accident

The law is clear on what you must do if you’re involved in an accident.

  1. Stop your vehicle
  2. Remain at the scene until the police arrive.
  3. Give your name and address and show your driver’s license and vehicle registration certificate to any party involved.
  4. Give your name and address and show your driver’s license and vehicle registration certificate to any police officer or witness of the accident.

If there is no one around or no one in a condition to receive this information, you must report the accident to the nearest local, county or state police department.

If you hit a parked car or a building, and there is no one around to receive this information, write the information on a note, and leave it where the owner can see it. 

Can I leave the scene of accident after I give the other driver my info?

Absolutely not.

All drivers involved in a car accident must stop their vehicles.

If anyone is injured or if either vehicle is disabled, you must call 911 or the police and wait.

You may be late for an important meeting or have other pressing appointments and don’t want to wait. It is understandable if you want to leave. However, the law says that you have to stop.

If you do leave you may be charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

But I had no clue that I was involved in an accident!

The law says that you must stop if you are “knowingly” involved in an accident.

You will be presumed to know you were in an accident if you have an accident and there are damages of at least $250, or injuries.

In today’s world, accident damage of $250 could be a paint scratch. So, if you think you had an accident, even a minor one, it is best to stop.

As New Jersey lawyers handling leaving the scene of accident cases, we have had hundreds of cases where the client had a minor accident and left. Later, they got a ticket in the mail for leaving the scene of the accident in the mail.

Remember, there are smartphones and surveillance cameras everywhere. It’s simple for witnesses & law enforcement to get your license plate and find you.

Leaving the accident scene penalties

The penalties depend on the circumstances of the accident. They can be severe.

If there was only damage to a vehicle or property, the penalties include:

  • For a first offense:
    • Fines of $200 to $400.
    • Jail time may be imposed by no more than 30 days.
    • Loss of license for six months.
  • For a second offense:
    • Fines of $400 to $600
    • Jail time may be imposed from 30 to 90 days.
    • Loss of license for one year.
  • If there was injury or death, the penalties include:
    • Fines of $2,500 to $5,000
    • Jail time may be imposed – 180 days.
    • Loss of license for one year for the first offense and permanent loss of license for any subsequent offense.

Will I get points on my license?

Yes. If there is only property damage, the Motor Vehicle Commission will give you 2 points on your license. If there are any injuries reported, you can get up to 8 points on your license.

If your license gets suspended, your life will really get complicated. It may take months and thousands of dollars to restore your license. Making matters worse, your insurance premiums will skyrocket.

At least I'm not facing criminal charges right?

Wrong!

If you leave the scene of an accident, where there is serious bodily injury, you could be charged criminally with N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.1, “Knowingly leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident resulting in serious bodily injury”.

This is a third-degree indictable offense.

If you were involved in an accident where there was a serious bodily injury, let us help you.

I left the scene of an accident a while back.
Is there a time limit for the cops to catch me?

Yes. It is one year from the date of the accident.

The time limit to file a complaint is called a statute of limitations.

And how can the police find me?

An officer who responds to the scene of an accident will look at many details to determine who caused the accident and who left the scene. Most times drivers who flee the scene are located.

They may examine:

  • Car parts in the road.
  • Tire marks in the roadway.
  • Photos or Video footage from nearby stores or light poles.
  • Witnesses to the accident.
  • Paint marks on any vehicle involved in the accident.

 

We’ve represented out-of-state clients who thought the police would never find them. They returned home to Florida & California but they didn’t get away with it. The police found them.

Can i get in trouble for failure to report?

If you are in an accident and you do not report it, you may be given a traffic ticket for N.J.S.A. 39:4-130, “Failure to report an accident”. This is a separate traffic infraction than N.J.S.A. 39:4-129.

If you plead guilty or are found guilty of failure to report an accident you will be fined from $30 to $100.

I'm scared because I left the scene of an accident.
What should I do?

You should contact us immediately. We know how to analyze the facts of your case and determine your best defenses. You should not speak with anyone or give your “side of the story”. Anything you say can be used against you.

Leaving the Scene of An Accident Law

39:4-129. 

(a) The driver of any vehicle, knowingly involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close thereto as possible but shall then forthwith return to and in every event shall remain at the scene until he has fulfilled the requirements of subsection (c) of this section. Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary. 

Any person who shall violate this subsection shall be fined not less than $2,500 nor more than $5,000, or be imprisoned for a period of 180 days, or both. The term of imprisonment required by this subsection shall be imposed only if the accident resulted in death or injury to a person other than the driver convicted of violating this section.

 

In addition, any person convicted under this subsection shall forfeit his right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State for a period of one year from the date of his conviction for the first offense and for a subsequent offense shall thereafter permanently forfeit his right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State.

 

(b)The driver of any vehicle knowingly involved in an accident resulting only in damage to a vehicle, including his own vehicle, or other property which is attended by any person shall immediately stop his vehicle at the scene of such accident or as close thereto as possible, but shall then forthwith return to and in every event shall remain at the scene of such accident until he has fulfilled the requirements of subsection (c) of this section. 

Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary. Any person who shall violate this subsection shall be fined not less than $200 nor more than $400, or be imprisoned for a period of not more than 30 days, or both, for the first offense, and for a subsequent offense, shall be fined not less than $400 nor more than $600, or be imprisoned for a period of not less than 30 days nor more than 90 days or both.

 

In addition, a person who violates this subsection shall, for a first offense, forfeit the right to operate a motor vehicle in this State for a period of six months from the date of conviction, and for a period of one year from the date of conviction for any subsequent offense.

 

(c)The driver of any vehicle knowingly involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person or damage to any vehicle or property shall give his name and address and exhibit his operator’s license and registration certificate of his vehicle to the person injured or whose vehicle or property was damaged and to any police officer or witness of the accident, and to the driver or occupants of the vehicle collided with and render to a person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including the carrying of that person to a hospital or a physician for medical or surgical treatment, if it is apparent that the treatment is necessary or is requested by the injured person.

 

In the event that none of the persons specified are in condition to receive the information to which they otherwise would be entitled under this subsection, and no police officer is present, the driver of any vehicle involved in such accident after fulfilling all other requirements of subsections (a) and (b) of this section, insofar as possible on his part to be performed, shall forthwith report such accident to the nearest office of the local police department or of the county police of the county or of the State Police and submit thereto the information specified in this subsection.

 

(d)The driver of any vehicle which knowingly collides with or is knowingly involved in an accident with any vehicle or other property which is unattended resulting in any damage to such vehicle or other property shall immediately stop and shall then and there locate and notify the operator or owner of such vehicle or other property of the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle striking the unattended vehicle or other property or, in the event an unattended vehicle is struck and the driver or owner thereof cannot be immediately located, shall attach securely in a conspicuous place in or on such vehicle a written notice giving the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle doing the striking or, in the event other property is struck and the owner thereof cannot be immediately located, shall notify the nearest office of the local police department or of the county police of the county or of the State Police and in addition shall notify the owner of the property as soon as the owner can be identified and located. Any person who violates this subsection shall be punished as provided in subsection (b) of this section.

 

(e)There shall be a permissive inference that the driver of any motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person or damage in the amount of $250.00 or more to any vehicle or property has knowledge that he was involved in such accident.

 

For purposes of this section, it shall not be a defense that the operator of the motor vehicle was unaware of the existence or extent of personal injury or property damage caused by the accident as long as the operator was aware that he was involved in an accident.

 

There shall be a permissive inference that the registered owner of the vehicle which was involved in an accident subject to the provisions of this section was the person involved in the accident; provided, however, if that vehicle is owned by a rental car company or is a leased vehicle, there shall be a permissive inference that the renter or authorized driver pursuant to a rental car contract or the lessee, and not the owner of the vehicle, was involved in the accident, and the requirements and penalties imposed pursuant to this section shall be applicable to that renter or authorized driver or lessee and not the owner of the vehicle.

 

Any person who suppresses, by way of concealment or destruction, any evidence of a violation of this section or who suppresses the identity of the violator shall be subject to a fine of not less than $250 or more than $1,000.

 

Our Experience

You or a loved one have been arrested. Understandably, you are terrified & have a lot of questions. You’ve heard about plea bargains & probation, but the process is overwhelming. You want a local attorney near you to represent you.

Mr. Peyrouton is from Ridgewood & handles all types of criminal matters in New Jersey The New Jersey Law Journal recently published one of his articles on the subject of criminal law.

How We Can Help

Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, we are here to defend & protect you. Whether you are facing a restraining order, drug charge, theft charge, or aggravated assault charge, we are here to help you. Even a DWI case can really complicate your life.

If we can’t get your charges dismissed, we can either get them downgraded or place you in a diversionary program. The point is, our criminal defense lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you the best result possible. Take advantage of our free consultation to see how we can help.

Get Help With Your Case

How Do Your Free Consultations Work?

There are plenty of excellent Hackensack criminal lawyers in our area. Most, if not all of them, offer free, 20-minute, consultations. However, our free consultations do not have a time limit. You will never feel rushed.

The best way for us to help you is to patiently listen to your side of the story. Your version of events will serve as the basis for your legal defense. It is during these initial meetings that your memory of the event is fresh in your mind. Why we would rush you during such an important aspect of your case.

We understand that your choice of attorney could mean the difference between your freedom and spending years behind bars. 

When you hire an attorney, you are entering a long-term relationship. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the team of Hackensack criminal lawyers that will represent you.

What our clients say about us

Peyrouton Law
5.0
Based on 148 reviews
Chase Parchment
Chase Parchment
16:16 01 Apr 21
I was in a terrible bind. Police officer trumped up charges, lied and frankly tried to ruin me. I was facing six charges but I knew I was not guilty of anything. Samera was very professional and knowledgeable and helped guide me along. Alan was sharp from day one and in the end, all charges were dismissed. I couldn't be any happier. Not only will I use them if I need to (Though I hope it not), I will recommend Alan to anyone I know in need of counsel. Thank you again.
Alessandra Sawick
Alessandra Sawick
17:14 29 Mar 21
We had a smooth process dealing with the courts thanks to Peyrouton Law office. They are very professional and knowledge and helped us in every step of the way. They really care for the clients and for resolving their cases. I highly recommend their services.
sugoi desune
sugoi desune
18:25 24 Mar 21
I went to this law office when I was in a dire situation and from an affordable cost and an incredibly hardworking law firm my situation was handled with care and saved me a lot of trouble.
Joao limao
Joao limao
18:21 24 Mar 21
Amazing lawyer! He took care of everything while I was able to relax and kept me informed the entire process throughout.
Bruce Lieblich
Bruce Lieblich
17:35 19 Mar 21
Personal attention to detail anytime you callRates are reasonable and his effort is second to noneAlways professional and solid legal guidanceCan help you day or night no stone left unturned
Maria Castillo
Maria Castillo
20:24 15 Mar 21
Thank you Alan and Samera for your wonderful work! This was my first time facing a criminal conviction and you guys were able to help me and support me throughout this process. Alan was able to get the best outcome in this situation and for that I will always be grateful for. I will definitely recommend this law office to anyone facing a hard time with the law. Thank you again!
Jason C
Jason C
04:28 11 Mar 21
I never thought I would need legal assistance for my family, but Alan was awesome. Highly recommend to everyone and would have no problem using his services again. Samera is just a flawless addition to his team. I can't say enough good things about them.
Schumacher Photographs
Schumacher Photographs
18:10 10 Mar 21
This law firm and Samera in particular helped me out of a big jam that was actually a mistake NDMV made. NJ thought my car insurance lapsed when I moved out of state so they suspended my license which meant I could not get my car registered in my new state AND couldn't get my license updated nor could I go to dmv since I moved cross country. I answered every letter NJDMV sent me registered receipt mail with ALL the proof my vehicle NEVER had a lapse but they ignored all my correspondence. The office manager at Peyrouton Law, Samera handled everything. ONLY through her tenacity and persistence did this issue get resolved. NJDMV lifted the suspension so I could move forward where I currently live. This girl is dead on it! Thank you soo much Samera and Alan! Harry S.
B J
B J
17:00 17 Feb 21
Crashnburn973
Crashnburn973
23:01 15 Feb 21
So far so good....no complaints here...Very good people
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A person extorts if he purposely threatens to:

a. Inflict bodily injury on or physically confine or restrain anyone or commit any other criminal offense;
b. Accuse anyone of an offense or cause charges of an offense to be instituted against any person;
c. Expose or publicize any secret or any asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to impair his credit or business repute;
d. Take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action;
e. Bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;
f. Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
g. Inflict any other harm which would not substantially benefit the actor but which is calculated to materially harm another person.

***It is an affirmative defense to prosecution based on paragraphs b, c, d or f that the property obtained was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstances or as lawful compensation for property or services.

Reasonable Articulable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion is a “search” standard that applies in criminal law.

When a police officer conducts a warrantless search, and does not have probable cause to justify the search, the courts look to see if the police had
a “reasonable & articulable suspicion” for the search.

A mere “hunch” is not enough.

In other words, a police officer has to provide an acceptable explanation for the search.

United States Constitution

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

NJSA - 2C:43-7.2.
Eligibility for parole;
persons convicted of certain violent crimes

a. A court imposing a sentence of incarceration for a crime of the first or second degree enumerated in subsection d. of this section shall fix a minimum term of 85% of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.


b. The minimum term required by subsection a. of this section shall be fixed as a part of every sentence of incarceration imposed upon every conviction of a crime enumerated in subsection d. of this section, whether the sentence of incarceration is determined pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-6, N.J.S.2C:43-7, N.J.S.2C:11-3 or any other provision of law, and shall be calculated based upon the sentence of incarceration actually imposed. The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall not be construed or applied to reduce the time that must be served before eligibility for parole by an inmate sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of incarceration. Solely for the purpose of calculating the minimum term of parole ineligibility pursuant to subsection a. of this section, a sentence of life imprisonment shall be deemed to be 75 years.


c. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and in addition to any other sentence imposed, a court imposing a minimum period of parole ineligibility of 85 percent of the sentence pursuant to this section shall also impose a five-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the first degree, or a three-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the second degree. The term of parole supervision shall commence upon the completion of the sentence of incarceration imposed by the court pursuant to subsection a. of this section unless the defendant is serving a sentence of incarceration for another crime at the time he completes the sentence of incarceration imposed pursuant to subsection a., in which case the term of parole supervision shall commence immediately upon the defendant’s release from incarceration. During the term of parole supervision the defendant shall remain in release status in the community in the legal custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and shall be supervised by the State Parole Board as if on parole and shall be subject to the provisions and conditions

Felony Degree

Prison & Fines

Examples

First-Degree

1st-degree felony charges in NJ are reserved for the most serious criminal offenses. Prison terms start at a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Second-Degree

2nd-degree felony charges carry 5-10 yrs in prison.
These charges can often be “downgraded” to 3rd or 4th-degree crimes.

Third-Degree

3rd-degree felony charges carry 3-5 years.
You have a good shot at PTI if you are charged with a 3rd-degree.

Fourth-Degree

4th-degree felony charges carry up to 18 months in jail. These cases can get “remanded” to a lower court. In this way, you will be out of “felony” danger.