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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.

Our Practice Areas

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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.

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Excellent lawyer , Alan was by far great help with my case. Thank you for being so responsive to my self and my fiancée when we needed help the most. He sure helped me solve my case I highly recommend Alan Payruton. The best of the best .
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Alan was by far the most effective and professional lawyer i have ever delt with. He is extremely responsive and effective in conversation. It was a pleasure choosing him to defend me and I would recommend him to all my family and friends.
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Excellent attorney. From my first interaction with him he was meticulous, caring and knowledgeable. He explained the nature of my case, strategy to proceed forward and possible ways to resolve the issue. He was quick to respond to my questions and concerns, and was very encouraging when I expressed doubts about my case. He guided me step by step throughout the process. Apart from being an excellent attorney he is also a great person. He was even-keeled with a wonderful temperament. I highly, highly recommend him.
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Alan is a fantastic attorney. His empathy, expertise, and experience really made a distressing process, manageable. He was always reachable and available to answer our questions and guide us through our most recent legal situation. The most reassuring part of working with Alan is that he's literally the lawyer handling your case and communications, unlike other attorneys or large firms where you may get passed around. Bottom line, if you want results, hire Alan!
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Alan is an exceptional attorney. We met with 4 attorneys before we met with Alan and we couldn't believe how patient, humble and knoweldgeable he was. The other 4 lawyers were so arrogant and impatient and they tried to scare us and demanded insane amounts of money. Alan was the opposite. He patiently answered all of our questions and quoted us a reasonable price. We felt so comfortable with Alan that we hired him instantly. My wife said that she felt his compassion and trusted him. Throughout his representation of me, he always reached out to explain each step of the way and what would happen. He held my hand throughout the process and never asked for more money. He resolved my case quickly because it was nonsense to begin with and wwe couldn't be more grateful. I highly recommend him.
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Highly recommend Mr.Peyrouton. He was very understanding & patient with me throughout the case and overall a great guy. You won’t regret it!
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