Georgia Hit and Run Laws

Georgia hit and run laws: What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in the Peach State?

Under 40-6-270, Georgia hit and run laws, leaving the scene of an accident without a valid reason can be a felony or misdemeanor. In addition, upon conviction, the state may suspend or revoke your driver’s license.

Quick take:

  • An accident escalates into a felony or misdemeanor if the driver flees the scene.
  • You have a legal obligation to aid anyone injured after an accident.
  • Never admit fault after an accident.
  • Georgia hit and ruin laws do not prevent prosecutors from seeking other charges including evading the police, vehicular homicide, and manslaughter.
  •  If you cannot locate the owner of the struck vehicle, leave a note on a conspicuous section of the vehicle.


Georgia hit and run law, 40-6-270 Duty of the driver to stop at or return to scene of accident explained

In Georgia, whenever a driver is involved in a traffic collision, be it minor or severe, the driver has a legal obligation to stop and remain at the scene until cleared by law enforcement or until you exchange contact information with the victim or property owner. The law also requires you to render reasonable assistance to the victim, including transporting the victim to a care facility such as a hospital.

What are your obligations at the scene of an accident in Georgia?

Under Georgia hit and run statute, you must do the following immediately after an accident:

  • Immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or close to the scene.
  • Call law enforcement and render reasonable assistance to anyone injured.
  •  Do not obstruct traffic more than is necessary.

What happens if you hit a car in a parking lot and leave in Georgia?

Under OCGA 40-6-271, leaving the scene after striking an unattended vehicle or property is a misdemeanor punishable by up to twelve months in prison and a fine, not less than $300 and not more than $1000. What if you cannot locate the owner of the vehicle or property?

You may leave a note on the vehicle or property containing your contact information. Failure to do that means that you are guilty of a misdemeanor. The statute reads, quote.

“The driver of any vehicle which collides with any vehicle which is unattended shall immediately stop and shall then and there either locate and notify the operator or owner of such vehicle of the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle striking the unattended vehicle or shall leave in a conspicuous place on the vehicle struck a written notice giving the name and address of the driver and the owner of the vehicle doing the striking.”

Note, the punishment increases if the accused has priors.

What happens if you hit and injure or kill a person and leave the scene in Georgia?

As mentioned, in Georgia, you have a legal obligation to offer reasonable assistance to the victim immediately after an accident. Failure to aid the victim and remain at the scene is a felony if the victim suffers injury or death.

State statute 40-6-270, section 4, requires that -if the victim appears deceased, is unconscious, or unable to communicate, you must make a reasonable effort to contact the police and emergency services.

What is the punishment for fleeing the scene of an accident that results in injury or death?

Section 4b of the statute states that any driver who hits and injures or kills another then flees the scene is guilty of a felony punishable by no less than one year in prison and not more than five years in prison.

What to do if someone hits your car and drives off in Georgia?

Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime. Because of that, if someone hits your vehicle or property then flees, your priority is to call the police. Do not chase, threaten, or harm the driver because, during the trial, the driver may use your actions at the scene as a defense. Instead, if you are capable, gather evidence that will help the police track down the driver.

If you have a dashcam, make sure that it is recording. You may also write down everything you see, including the vehicle’s make, colour, driver description, and so on.

 If there are witnesses in the area, you should collect their contact information.

Do not admit fault

Even if you are the at fault party, you should not admit it because it may affect your eligibility to receive compensation. Remember, investigators will determine the at fault party. If you acknowledge that the accident was your fault, you may be opening yourself up for a lawsuit and increased insurance premiums.

The point is, be careful with what you say at the scene and what you tell law enforcement. Avoid using words like “I’m sorry, it was my fault,” instead, tell investigators your side of the story without incriminating yourself. In other words, do not apologize or speak to an insurance adjuster before contacting an attorney.

Georgia hit and run law 40-6-270 through 40-6-271 what to remember:

  • You must immediately stop after an accident and render reasonable assistance to anyone injured.
  • If the injured person or occupant of the damaged vehicle requests it, you must exhibit your driver’s license.
  • Do not obstruct traffic more than is necessary.
  • An accident escalates into a misdemeanor if the driver flees the scene after causing property damage.
  • Fleeing the scene of an accident that causes death or injury is a felony.
  • A plea of “nolo contendere/ No contest” constitutes a conviction in Georgia.
  •  The court may order the accused to pay a fine in installments if lumpsum payments cause economic hardship.

Georgia hit and run laws: Mandatory license suspension

Under 40-5-54, the court may suspend or revoke your drivers license following a conviction for any vehicle related felony. What that means is if you are convicted of a hit and run, racing, eluding, or attempting to elude the police, the court may revoke your license. For how long?

Section B of the statute reads, quote,

“All judges of all courts having jurisdiction of the offenses set forth in subsection (a) of this Code section shall, at the time of sentencing, give notice to the defendant on forms prescribed by the department of the suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license. The period of suspension shall be determined by the department for the term authorized by law. The court shall forward the notice of suspension and the defendant’s driver’s license to the department within ten days from the date of conviction. The department shall notify the defendant of the period of suspension at the address provided by the defendant.”

What if the accused was a minor?

Note that juveniles in Georgia may face charges in adult court under some circumstances. In adult court, the teen will receive adult punishment. For example, if a teen commits a hit and run while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and the incident results in death – Prosecutors may petition the court to try the teen as an adult.

When does a hit and run turn into a felony in Georgia?

As mentioned, if you hit someone and flee the scene, you are guilty of a felony. Furthermore, if you were intoxicated at the time of the accident or if the act was intentional, prosecutors may pursue other felony charges, including homicide, vehicular manslaughter, eluding the police, and other vehicle related felonies.

How long do you have to report a hit and run in Georgia?

The statute of limitations for personal injury in Georgia is two years, starting from the time of the accident. Note that prosecutors will only charge the accused if there is sufficient evidence, meaning you must prove your claim beyond a reasonable doubt. Consequently, it is vital to collect evidence at the scene and keep medical records.

For property damage and car repairs, you have four years from the time of the accident to file a claim.

What if the victim is a minor?

If the victim was a minor at the time of the incident, the countdown starts immediately after the victim turns 18.

What are the defenses for a hit and run in Georgia?

All hit and runs have a unique set of circumstances that impact your defense strategy. For example, if the victim brandished a weapon or acted violently after the incident, you may claim that your reason for fleeing the scene was self-defence.

Note, prosecutors and the other party may use police records to prove guilt or fault, therefore, watch what you say and, again, do not admit fault. If unsure of what to say, do not say anything until you speak to an attorney.

Some defenses your lawyer may use include:

  • You did not know that you were involved in an accident.
  • You did not leave the scene voluntarily.
  • The victim did not suffer injury property damage.
  • You left the scene to seek medical assistance for yourself or the victim.
  • You fulfilled the legal requirements before leaving the scene and reported the incident to law enforcement.

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