Welcome back. In our previous article on leaving the scene of an accident here on The Kronzek Firm’s drunk driving blog, we talked about how the law defined this crime, and what people are supposed to do in the event of a car crash. Primarily this focused on the exchange of certain pieces of information, and other protocols required when crashes happen in Michigan. Moving on, we are going to look at the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident.
As you may recall from the previous installment, anyone involved in a motor vehicle crash is required to stay at the scene of the crash until the police arrive. At that time, the officer on scene will talk to them about what happened, and determine if they are at fault or not. (Note that the police officer’s determination about fault is not binding on anyone. It’s just the officer’s opinion.) The only exception to this rule is if staying in place endangers their life. However, in this case they’re still required to notify the police immediately, and explain why they left the area.
Individuals who choose not to stay at the scene, whatever their reason, risk criminal charges. Anyone caught trying to leave the scene of an accident, or who is later proven to have left the scene without waiting for police, could face prosecution. The possible penalties for leaving the scene of an accident vary, depending on the severity of the accident:
Only property damage, no people harmed:
If the accident involves only property damage, the driver could be charged with a misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a fine of up to $100, or both.
Personal injury/People are harmed:
If the accident involves a personal injury in Michigan, or any individual is harmed as a result of the crash, the driver could be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. In addition, if convicted, that person’s driver’s license will be suspended by the Michigan Secretary of State.
Serious Impairment of a Body Function/Death:
If the accident involves serious impairment of a body function or death of any party involved, anyone leaving the scene could be charged with a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. Additionally, if the accident causes serious impairment of a body function or death, and further investigation reveals that the driver leaving the scene was actually the one at fault, they could be charged with a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
Adding alcohol to any equation involving vehicles and speed increases the chances of a crash. Adding alcohol to any decision making process usually leads to bad choices. So it’s no surprise that many people who leave the scene of an accident do so in order to avoid a DUI. However, while it may sound like a good idea at the time, this usually results in even more charges and much harsher penalties.
If you believe you’re being investigated for leaving the scene of an accident, your next move should be to immediately contact a criminal defense lawyer. At The Kronzek Firm, our skilled attorneys understand that early intervention in a case can make a significant difference in the outcome. For this reason, we have attorneys on standby, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide advice and legal counsel. If your situation seems urgent, call us immediately at 1-866-766-5245. We are here to help.