Maine hit and run laws: What is the fine for leaving the scene of an accident in the Pine Tree State?
- Maine hit and run laws: What is the fine for leaving the scene of an accident in the Pine Tree State?
- Maine hit and run laws explained
Under Maine hit and run laws, section 2252 and 2253, leaving the scene of an accident is punishable by a maximum fine of $5000 and license suspension for up to 90 days.
Note: What you do before and after an accident determines if the crime is a misdemeanor or felony.
Quick take: Maine hit and run laws
- Leaving the scene of an accident that results in death or injury is a felony.
- Maine is a “modified comparative fault” state.
- Do not move the vehicle if the accident results in death or serious injury until investigations conclude.
- The victim may take civil action against the driver.
- You may leave the scene if you have valid cause to fear for your safety.
Maine hit and run laws explained
Maine hit and run laws require that whenever an individual is involved in an accident or traffic collision, the person must immediately stop his vehicle at the scene or as close to the scene as possible. Because of that, a traffic collision escalates into a crime if you knowingly or voluntarily leave the scene without fulfilling the requirements of state statutes 2252 and 2253.
What are your legal obligations at the scene of an accident in Maine?
Generally, when you are involved in an accident in Maine, you must:
- Immediately stop your vehicle at the scene or close to the scene.
- Call law enforcement and remain at the scene until you give the victim, struck vehicle, or property owner your name, address, and vehicle registration number.
- Upon request, you must allow the other party involved in the collision to view your drivers’ license.
Note that section 1601 requires you to show evidence of insurance or financial responsibility upon request. Section 3 of the statute reads:
“Failure to produce evidence of insurance. If a person fails to produce evidence of liability insurance or financial responsibility, this failure is prima facie evidence that the person is uninsured and in violation of this section.”
Failing to produce proof of insurance after an accident or upon request from a law enforcement officer is a traffic infraction punishable by a fine, not less than $100 and not more than $500. The infraction may also result in license suspension for up to 30 days or until you provide evidence of financial responsibility to the secretary of state.
Maine hit and run laws: Misdemeanor offenses
Under 2253 “accidents involving vehicle damage,” failing to stop at the scene of an accident that results in property damage is a misdemeanor/class E crime. For example, if you strike a parked vehicle or cause minor damage and leave without providing your contact information and proof of insurance, upon arrest, you face up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1000.
Failure to provide proof of insurance at the scene is an infraction.
Note that the court may dismiss a violation of subsection 2 D (Failure to provide proof of insurance) if that person, quote:
“A. Shows the issuing law enforcement officer satisfactory evidence of liability insurance or financial responsibility that was in effect at the time of the alleged violation and the issuing officer notifies the violations bureau of that fact; or B. Files a timely answer to a Violation Summons and Complaint alleging a violation of subsection 2, paragraph D and that person presents to the court at the time of trial satisfactory evidence of liability insurance or financial responsibility that was in effect at the time of the alleged violation.”
What is a reportable accident in Maine?
Under state statute 2251, a reportable accident in Maine is any accident that results in injury, death, or damage surpassing $1000. In addition, section 2 of the statute states that you must report such accidents immediately and by the quickest means possible.
If the accident results in death or injury, investigators must conduct investigations, meaning, in such a scenario, you should not leave the scene unless you have a good reason.
What happens if you hit a parked car in Maine and cannot find the owner?
If the damage surpasses $1000, you must call the police and remain at the scene until they arrive. If the damage is below $1000 and you cannot locate the vehicle or property owner. You may leave a note on a conspicuous section of the vehicle detailing your contact information.
Maine hit and run laws: Felony offenses
Under Maine hit and run laws section 2252, “accidents involving death or personal injury,” if you leave the scene of an accident that results in serious injury or death, you are guilty of a Class D crime. In Maine, a class D crime is the highest level of misdemeanors that carries a jail sentence of up to 12 months, a maximum fine of $2000, and license suspension for up to 90 days.
If there was a motive behind the collision or the victim dies, the crime may escalate to vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter.
Note that if the accident results in death or injury, you have a legal obligation to render reasonable assistance to anyone that needs it. Furthermore, section 5 of the statute reads, quote:
“Aggravated punishment category. Notwithstanding subsection 4, a person commits a Class C crime if that person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly fails to comply with this section and the accident resulted in serious bodily injury, as defined in Title 17-A, section 2, subsection 23, or death.”
Note: a class C crime in Maine is a felony.
DUI hit and run Maine
If the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, that individual is guilty of a Class C crime. A class C crime carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $5000 fine, and license suspension for up to 90 days.
What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident/hit and run in Maine?
- Hit and run property damage, class E crime/misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $1000 and up to 180 days in jail.
- Hit and run, death or minor injury, class D crime, misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a $2000 fine, and 90-day license suspension.
- Death, Serious injury or DUI hit and run, class C crime/felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, a $5000 fine, and 90-day license suspension.
Maine hit and run laws: Civil and administrative penalties
After an accident, the property owner or victim has the legal right to take civil action. That means you may sue the driver for negligence or pursue civil penalties such as lost wages, medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and so on.
Furthermore, the court may impose punitive damages upon conviction depending on the facts presented. That makes it vital to comply with the requirements above.
How is fault determined in Maine?
Maine’s “modified comparative fault” rule allows claimants to recover damages only when your share of responsibility for the accident is lower than the other party’s.
That means if investigators or jury conclude that you were 51% responsible for the accident, then you cannot recover compensation.
Therefore, it is crucial never to admit fault at the scene of an accident. If you do admit fault by using words such as “it was my fault” or “I did not see the person/vehicle” you may deny yourself compensation. Remember, often, these cases divulge into your word versus the other persons’ word.
In short, you must do the following immediately after an accident:
- Immediately stop your vehicle and render reasonable assistance to anyone who needs it.
- Call law enforcement.
- Do not admit fault or use language that authorities may use against you.
- Take pictures, get witness testimonies, and contact information, and write down everything.
- If you have a dashcam, save the footage.
- Do not leave the scene without exchanging information.
- File a police report
- Take photos
Tip: if the accident results in death, serious injury, or expensive property damage, consult with your lawyer before filing your report.
- Do not comment about your health or use words that may shift blame towards you.
- Avoid taking the law into your own hands or participating in road rage.
- Document everything and get witness testimony and information.
- Seek medical attention.
- Exchange information with the driver.
- If the driver flees, document -the make of the car, driver description, car color, plates, and anything that may make it easier for investigators to find the driver.
- Take photos.
Tip: be careful with what you say to your insurer because they may use your words to deny you a settlement. We recommend contacting an attorney before your insurer.
Maine hit and run laws: Defenses
Whenever you are involved in an accident, it is vital to build your defense immediately. Ideally, you want to avoid pointing blame to yourself or doing anything that can be interpreted as evidence of negligence. That means, stay at the scene until law enforcement arrives, call your lawyer immediately if the accident result in death or injury, do not act hostile towards the other party, and make sure that you exchange information at the scene. In other words, do what the law expects you to do.
If negotiations or mediation fails and the case goes to court, some defenses you may use, depending on the facts, include:
- You feared for your safety.
- You, leaving the scene, was not intentional.
- The other party refused your contact information, threatened you, or did not suffer any injuries.
- You did not leave the scene.
- You were not the one driving the vehicle.
Other Maine Laws