New Mexico Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- New Mexico Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- What happens if you leave the scene of an accident in New Mexico?
- Is leaving the scene of an accident a misdemeanor in New Mexico?
- Is leaving the scene of an accident a felony in New Mexico?
- What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in New Mexico?
- How is fault determined in New Mexico?
- What is the statute of limitations on car accidents in New Mexico?
- Leaving the scene of an accident in New Mexico: Defenses
Leaving the scene of an accident in New Mexico may result in felony charges if anyone suffers death or injury. Apart from time in prison. The court may also suspend or revoke your driving privileges.
Quick take: leaving the scene of an accident in New Mexico
- A DUI hit and run resulting in death is a second-degree felony.
- You have five days to submit a written report to the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
- The statute of limitations for personal injuries three years.
- Victims and the at fault party may recover compensation.
- Your personal safety trumps your obligation to remain at the scene.
- 66-7-201: accidents involving death or personal injury.
- 66-7-203 “duty to give information and render aid
What happens if you leave the scene of an accident in New Mexico?
Under New Mexico’s hit and run laws sections, 66-7-201 through 66-7-203, all drivers in the state have a legal obligation to immediately stop at the scene of an accident and fulfill the requirements of NMSA Section 66-7-203. Failure to fulfill the requirements listed below may result in felony or misdemeanor hit and run charges.
What are your legal obligations at the scene of an accident in New Mexico?
NMSA section 66-7-203, “duty to give information and render aid” states that you must:
- Immediately stop the vehicle at the scene without interfering with traffic flow more than is necessary.
- Give your name, address, and vehicle registration to the struck property owner, victim, or occupant in the struck vehicle.
- If requested, you must exhibit your driver’s license to the struck person or law enforcement officer present at the scene.
- Render reasonable assistance to anyone who needs it.
Is leaving the scene of an accident a misdemeanor in New Mexico?
You are guilty of misdemeanor hit and run if you knowingly leave the scene of an accident involving property damage. In addition, if the accident results in injuries that put the victim at high risk of death or deformity, you may face high misdemeanor or felony charges.
Under section 67-7-1: “Obstructing roads,” obstructing traffic is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not less than five days and not more than thirty days. What if stopping at the scene is unsafe? State law allows you to stop the vehicle close to the scene if the accident only results in property damage. That means you may move the vehicle then return to the scene. However, if the vehicle was transporting hazardous materials or if the victim dies. You should not move the vehicle until when instructed to do so by emergency workers or law enforcement.
If someone dies or suffers serious injuries, the police must investigate the scene.
What happens if you hit an unattended vehicle in New Mexico?
Under state law, you must make a reasonable effort to locate the property owner whenever you are involved in a collision with an unattended vehicle or property. If you cannot locate the property owner, you may leave a note on a conspicuous section of the struck vehicle containing your name, address, vehicle registration, and contact information.
If you do not exchange or leave your information, you are guilty of misdemeanor hit and run.
What is a reportable accident in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, if you are involved in an accident that results in death, injury, or property damage surpassing $500, you must report the incident to the police using the “quickest means of communication.”
Note that you have five days to submit a written report to the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
Section 66-7-206. Reads, quote:
“The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in bodily injury to or death of any person or property damage to an apparent extent of five hundred dollars ($500) or more shall immediately, by the quickest means of communication, give notice of the accident to the police department if the accident occurs within a municipality; otherwise to the office of the county sheriff or the nearest office of the New Mexico state police.”
Remember, failure to report an accident in New Mexico may result in misdemeanor charges. Also, your insurer may deny you compensation because you failed to report.
In short – Call the police at the scene and make sure that you submit a written report to the state’s Department of Transportation within five days.
Is leaving the scene of an accident a felony in New Mexico?
Yes. Knowingly leaving the scene of an accident that involves death or serious injuries such as disfigurement, limb loss, facial damage, or organ damage is a felony. Chapter 66-7-201 Section C states that leaving the scene of an accident without exchanging information or rendering reasonable assistance is a third-degree felony if the victim dies. Under section B, if the victim suffers an injury and you leave the scene, you are guilty of a fourth-degree felony.
Upon conviction for both felony and misdemeanor offenses under the statute, the court shall suspend the convict’s driver’s license. The charge determines for how long the suspension may last.
New Mexico hit and run laws, vehicular homicide, and driving under the influence
Section 66-8-101 defines vehicular homicide as, “Homicide by vehicle is the killing of a human being in the unlawful operation of a motor vehicle.” Because of that, if you hit and kill someone while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you could be guilty of a second-degree felony.
If the accident involved reckless driving such as speeding or driving while distracted, the driver is guilty of a third-degree felony.
DUI hit and run resulting in great bodily injury
Section 30-1-12 defines great bodily injury as quote, “an injury to the person which creates a high probability of death; or which causes serious disfigurement; or which results in permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any member or organ of the body.”
A DUI that results in great bodily injury is a second-degree felony.
Note. A single set of facts may lead to multiple charges. For example, a driver may face DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, vehicular assault, reckless driving, or vehicular homicide charges.
On top of that, New Mexico has “implied consent” laws. Meaning whenever you get behind the wheel, you automatically consent to alcohol and drug testing. If you refuse to take the test, the prosecution may use your refusal against you, and the state will suspend your license for up to one year.
If convicted, you may qualify for enhanced punishment -including punitive damages, additional jail/prison time, and fines.
What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in New Mexico?
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage/hitting an unattended vehicle: misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $1000 and up to six months or one year in jail.
- Hit and run involving injury or death: fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a maximum fine of $5000.
- Hit and run involving reckless driving: third-degree felony, punishable by up to 3 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5000.
- DUI hit and run resulting in death or injury: second-degree felony, punishable by up to 9 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10000.
Note: the state will suspend or revoke your driver’s license upon conviction for any of the crimes above.
How is fault determined in New Mexico?
New Mexico is a “pure comparative fault” state. Because of that, claimants may recover compensation even if the individual was primarily responsible for the accident. Remember, your share of responsibility for the accident diminishes the damages you may collect. If you are the at-fault party, you may collect some compensation. Because of that, there are several things you should do immediately after an accident in the state:
- Never admit fault or use words that may shift blame to you, such as “I’m sorry” or “it was my fault.”
- Do not leave the scene until you fulfill your statutory requirements. If you do not, the court may interpret you leaving the scene as a sign of guilt.
- Seek medical attention and do not comment about your health until you get an expert opinion.
- Document and film anything that may aid the police to find the other driver.
- Do not leave the scene if you do not have a good reason. One valid reason is you feared for your safety.
- Notify law enforcement immediately and file a report within five days.
- Contact your insurer. If the accident results in death, expensive property damage, or great bodily harm, it is advisable to contact an attorney.
What is the statute of limitations on car accidents in New Mexico?
- The statute of limitations for personal injury in New Mexico is three years.
- For property damage, you have four years to file a civil lawsuit.
- If the victim dies, survivors have three years to file a wrongful death claim starting from the date of death.
Note: That if you do not file a suit within the set time, the court will no longer have authority over the incident. Also, you have the option to settle. We recommend consulting with an experienced attorney to find out which option best suits your situation.
Leaving the scene of an accident in New Mexico: Defenses
Depending on the charges, you may argue in your defense:
- You felt threatened or that remaining at the scene would result in more harm.
- You fulfilled your statutory requirements.
- Leaving the scene was involuntary.
- The victim suffered no injuries, and you did not damage any property.
Remember, an accident becomes a crime as soon as you leave the scene. Therefore you cannot leave then come back unless you have a good reason. We suggest consulting with a defense attorney immediately.
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