The attorneys at Wolf Law frequently encounter clients who are charged with leaving the scene of an accident. Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious offense. In New Jersey, motor vehicle charges for leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident are governed by N.J.S.A. 39:4-129. The statute requires that a driver immediately stop a vehicle once he or she is involved in an accident. This should be done at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible. The driver must then satisfy the requirements of N.J.S.A. 39:4-129(c), which requires the driver provide their name and address and display their driver’s license and registration for the vehicle to the other driver or to the police officer at the scene. Also, if anyone is injured, the driver must provide “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.” Finally, if the other vehicle is unattended (i.e. the driver hit a parked car), the driver must attempt to find the driver and, if they are unable to do so, they must create a written notice with their contact information and place it on the other vehicle or notify the local police department.
Leaving the scene charges are usually handled at the municipal court level based on a violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-129. The penalties for a first offense include a one-year license suspension, a fine of $2,500 to $5,000, and potential imprisonment of up to180 days if the accident resulted in injury or death to another. Also, if the accident results in an injury, the leaving the scene charge results in eight points on your New Jersey Driver’s license. If the accident does not result in injury, it causes two points on your license. If an individual accumulates more than twelve points on their license in a two-year period, their license is subject to suspension.
If serious personal injury is involved, a driver charged with leaving the scene faces significant jail time and license suspension. Knowingly leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident in which serious bodily injury occurred constitutes a third-degree crime and is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.1. These charges will be heard at the Superior Court level and may well result in a State Prison sentence. The Statute reads as follows:
A motor vehicle operator who knows he is involved in an accident and knowingly leaves the scene of that accident under circumstances that violate the provisions of R.S.39:4-129 shall be guilty of a crime of the third degree if the accident results in serious bodily injury to another person. The presumption of nonimprisonment set forth in N.J.S.2C:44-1 shall not apply to persons convicted under the provisions of this section.
Further, if the driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident, the driver can be charged with aggravated assault or death by auto (vehicular homicide), depending on the injuries to the victim.
If you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident, contact an experienced criminal and motor vehicle defense attorney at Wolf Law for representation today.