Montana Hit and Run Laws: What happens if you leave the scene of an accident?
- Montana Hit and Run Laws: What happens if you leave the scene of an accident?
- What are the consequences of leaving the scene of an accident in Montana?
- Is leaving the scene of an accident a misdemeanor in Montana?
- Is leaving the scene of an accident a felony in Montana?
- What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in Montana?
- Montana hit and run laws: administrative and civil penalties
- How is fault determined in Montana?
- What is the statute of limitations on accidents in Montana?
- Leaving the scene of an accident: Possible defenses
Under Code section 61-7-103, Montana Hit and Run laws, leaving the scene of an accident without fulfilling your legal obligations will result in both civil and criminal penalties. If no one suffers death or injury, the driver is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Quick take: leaving the scene of an accident
- Accidents involving great bodily injury and drugs or alcohol use may lead to felony charges.
- Do not admit fault at the scene of an accident.
- You have a legal obligation to immediately stop at the scene of an accident and render reasonable assistance.
- Montana is an at fault state.
- You must file an accident report within ten days.
What are the consequences of leaving the scene of an accident in Montana?
Under section 61-7-105 “duty to give information and render aid.” Drivers in Montana have a legal obligation to immediately stop at the scene of an accident and do the following.
- You must give your name, address, and vehicle registration number to the struck person, vehicle occupant, or law enforcement agent present at the scene.
- Upon request from the struck person or peace officer, you must exhibit your driver’s license.
- If anyone suffers an injury, you must provide reasonable assistance to that individual.
- You must remain at the scene until the driver of the struck vehicle or police officer tells you to leave.
In short. An accident in Montana turns into a crime if you leave the scene without fulfilling the requirements above. Also, if you have a record, you may qualify for enhanced punishment.
Is leaving the scene of an accident a misdemeanor in Montana?
Yes. Under 61-7-10 “accident involving damage to a vehicle,” if you fail to comply with the requirements above after being involved in an accident, you are guilty of a misdemeanor. Note that if the accident does not result in death or injury or if you were not transporting hazardous materials, the law expects you to quote:
“Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.”
Obstructing traffic may cost you a fine depending on the circumstances.
What happens if you hit an unattended vehicle or property?
After striking an unattended vehicle or property, the first thing the law expects of you is to make a reasonable effort to locate the property owner. If you cannot locate the owner, you may leave a note containing your name, address, and vehicle registration on a conspicuous section of the struck vehicle.
If you leave the scene without finding the owner or leaving a note, you are guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to twenty days in jail and a fine not exceeding $300 for a first offense. For a second or subsequent offense, the penalty escalates into a maximum fine of $500 plus jail time for up to six months.
In short, if no one suffers injury or death, and you leave the scene of an accident, you will likely face misdemeanor hit and run charges.
Is leaving the scene of an accident a felony in Montana?
If the accident results in great bodily harm or death, leaving the scene is a felony. Remember, “great bodily injury” refers to injuries including limb loss, organ damage, facial damage, and so on.
If the accident results in minor injuries, the punishment is up to 365 days in jail and a maximum fine of $5000.
Accidents resulting in serious injuries or death in Montana
As mentioned, you have a legal obligation to immediately stop and render reasonable assistance to anyone who needs it after an accident. Failure to do that and if the victim suffers great bodily injury or death is a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison and a maximum fine of $50000.
Note. The court will revoke the accused person’s driver’s license and may impose punitive damages.
Is DUI hit and run a felony in Montana?
Note that under Montana’s “implied consent” laws. You automatically consent to drug and alcohol testing whenever you get behind the wheel. Because of that, if you refuse to take a drug test upon request from the police, the punishment is automatic license suspension for up to one year. Also, the punishment for having an open bottle of alcoholic beverage in your car is a fine not exceeding $100.
Remember state statute 45-5-106 “vehicular homicide, reads, quote:
“ A person commits the offense of vehicular homicide while under the influence if the person negligently causes the death of another human being while the person is operating a vehicle in violation of 61-8-1002.Vehicular homicide while under the influence is not an included offense of deliberate homicide.”
That said, DUI hit and run is a felony in Montana. If the victim dies, you may face vehicular manslaughter charges plus lawsuits.
What to remember
- If you sell alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual or anyone below 21, you could be liable for any damages or injuries the individual causes.
- Victims of DUI hit and run may file a personal injury claim, and the court may impose punitive damages.
- In Montana, you are guilty of a DUI if your body alcohol content exceeds .04%.
- Individuals accused of DUI hit and run qualify for enhanced penalties.
See if you can get a DUI expunged in Montana.
What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in Montana?
- Hit and run, property damage: misdemeanor, punishable by up to 20 days in jail and a maximum fine of $300 for a first offense.
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving minor injuries or property damage: misdemeanor, punishable by up to 365 days in jail and a maximum fine of $5000.
- Serious bodily injury or death: felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $50000.
- DUI hit and run/death: felony, punishable by up to thirty years in prison plus a maximum fine of $50000.
Note. Vehicular homicide is not a deferrable offense. Furthermore, a conviction for any of the crimes above will result in license suspension and the driver may have to complete a driver education program.
Montana hit and run laws: administrative and civil penalties
If you are the victim of an accident or hit and run, you have the legal right to take civil action to recover monetary compensation. To that end, it is in your best interest to do the following after an accident:
- Do not admit fault or comment about your physical condition before consulting with a medical professional.
- Immediately notify law enforcement after an accident.
- If the driver flees, collect information that may help police in their hunt.
- Gather evidence and witness testimonies at the scene of the accident.
- Get medical help and keep the records.
- Do not threaten or harm the other driver.
- Contact your insurer.
For the driver
- Immediately stop your vehicle and make a good faith effort to render reasonable assistance to anyone who needs it.
- You may leave the scene if you have a valid reason to fear for your safety.
- Immediately contact the police and file an accident report within ten days of the accident.
- If the accident results in expensive property damage or death. Contact your attorney before you file your report or call your insurer.
- Gather evidence, including dashcam footage or anything else that you may use.
How is fault determined in Montana?
Montana is an “at-fault state.” What that means is if you are the at-fault party or the one who caused the accident, you are liable to pay damages to the victim. However, it is not your job to place blame, meaning, putting blame on yourself using words such as “I did not see the other vehicle” or “it was entirely my fault.” Is not in your best legal interest.
Instead, what you should do is offer a true account of your version of events without placing blame. You may also let your attorney speak for you.
How do victims recover compensation in Montana after a hit and run?
If your negligence or percentage of fault for the accident is not higher than the other party’s. You may recover compensation through a negligence claim. Depending on the facts presented, there could also be other claims, meaning you should consult with an attorney to find out the most suitable claim.
What if the police never find the driver?
You may file a claim with your insurer.
What to remember:
- Your percentage of responsibility for the accident diminishes the amount you may recover.
- In Montana, the at-fault party is liable to compensate the victim
- You may recover medical compensation from your insurer if you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP).
What is the statute of limitations on accidents in Montana?
The statute of limitations on personal injury in Montana is three years. For property damage, the statute of limitations is two years, whereas wrongful death is three years, starting from the date of death.
Leaving the scene of an accident: Possible defenses
As mentioned, an accident becomes a crime in Montana if you leave without fulfilling the legal requirements above. What if you leave and come back?
If your reason for leaving was to get help for someone, and that was the quickest way to do it, you may avoid charges. That means, if you leave the scene, you must have a good reason. Other defenses include:
- You were unaware of your involvement in a traffic collision.
- You feared for your safety.
- The other party suffered no injuries, and the accident did not result in property damage.
- Mistaken identity.
Other Montana Laws