South Carolina Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- South Carolina Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- South Carolina hit and run laws section 56-5-1210 explained: What happens if you leave the scene of an accident?
- Is leaving the scene of an accident a misdemeanor in South Carolina?
- Is leaving the scene of an accident a felony in South Carolina?
- What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in South Carolina?
- Is South Carolina a fault state?
- What is the statute of limitations on hit and run in South Carolina?
- Leaving the scene of an accident in South Carolina defense
What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in South Carolina?
Under South Carolina hit and run laws, leaving the scene of an accident without fulfilling the requirements under section 56-5-1230 is a felony if anyone suffers death or injury and a misdemeanor if the collision results in property damage.
Quick take: South Carolina hit and run laws
- You must notify law enforcement immediately if an accident results in death, injury, or property damage above $1000.
- Conviction for misdemeanor and felony hit and run will result in license suspension.
- You may choose to settle during pretrial.
- Do not admit fault at the scene of an accident.
- You have 15 days to file a written report at the DMV.
- You have three years to file a personal injury claim.
- 56-5-1210: Duties of drivers involved in accident resulting in death or personal injury; moving or removing vehicles
South Carolina hit and run laws section 56-5-1210 explained: What happens if you leave the scene of an accident?
Under state law, you have a legal obligation to immediately stop your vehicle whenever you are involved in an accident. Because of that, an accident becomes a criminal offense if you fail to remain at the scene until you fulfill the statutory obligations contained in section 56-5-1230.
15-5-1230 “duty to give information and render aid,” says that you must do the following:
- Stop your vehicle at the scene or as close to the scene as possible without interfering with traffic more than is necessary. Blocking traffic may result in fines.
- Give your name, address, and vehicle registration number to the struck property owner, a passenger from the struck vehicle, or a peace officer present at the scene. Failure to exchange information constitutes a hit and run, and so does giving false information.
- Upon request from the struck person or peace officer, you must exhibit your driver’s license.
- Render reasonable assistance to anyone who needs it. If the victim requests it or if it is apparent that the injured person needs immediate medical assistance, you may transport the individual to a hospital.
Note that the victim has the right to file civil action even if you fulfill the requirements above.
How to avoid hit and run charges in South Carolina
During pretrial, it is possible to negotiate a settlement. If negotiations do not work, the case will go to trial.
To begin the settlement, your lawyer will send a demand letter to the at-fault party or insurer. A demand letter explains your losses or injuries and lays out the damages you would like to recover.
To sue the driver. You must submit a complaint to a county or district court. We recommend consulting with an attorney to determine if you should settle or take civil action.
If you are a driver involved in a hit and run, doing the following may help you avoid criminal charges.
- Stop your vehicle and remain at the scene until you fulfill the statutory obligations above.
- Call the police if you are involved in a reportable accident (see below).
- Collect evidence, including dashcam footage and witness testimonies. Collecting evidence will benefit your defense.
- Make sure that you have a good reason before leaving the scene. Valid reasons to leave the scene of an accident include fear for one’s safety, and leaving the scene was the quickest way to get help.
- Do not admit fault at the scene or use language that indicates guilt. If the case goes to court, investigators and the jury -decide who was at fault. Admitting fault puts you at a legal disadvantage.
- Do not say more than you need to. If the accident results in expensive property damage, death, or injury, it is best to let your attorney speak for you.
- File a police report and notify your insurer.
Is leaving the scene of an accident a misdemeanor in South Carolina?
Under section 56-5-1220, “duties of a driver involved in an accident resulting in damage to an attended vehicle,” you are guilty of a misdemeanor if you leave the scene of an accident involving property damage. Under the statute, the punishment for a hit and run involving property damage is up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $5000.
Upon conviction for leaving the scene of an accident in South Carolina, the state will suspend or revoke your driving privileges.
What happens if you hit an unattended vehicle in South Carolina?
Under state law, you have a legal obligation to make a reasonable effort to locate the struck property owner.
If you find the owner, you must give your name, address, and contact information. If the owner requests it, you must exhibit your driver’s license.
What if you cannot find the owner?
If you cannot find the owner, you must leave a note on a conspicuous section of the struck vehicle or property containing the information above. Failure to do that constitutes a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail plus a fine, not less than $100 and not more than $5000.
What is a reportable accident in South Carolina?
Under section 56-5-1270, in South Carolina, you must report any accident that results in death, injury, or property damage amounting to more than $1000.
How long do you have to report an accident in South Carolina?
You have 15 days to file a written report at the state’s DMV. The statute reads in part, quote:
“The operator or owner of a motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person or total property damage to an apparent extent of one thousand dollars or more which was not investigated by a law enforcement officer, within fifteen days after the accident, shall forward a written report and verification of liability insurance coverage of the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the proof and report to be in a manner prescribed by the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Public Safety. The completed and verified form must be returned by the operator or owner to the Department of Motor Vehicles within fifteen days from the accident date. Failure to forward the accident report verified in the proper manner in respect to liability insurance coverage for the operation of the vehicle involved in the accident is prima facie evidence that the vehicle was uninsured.”
What if you are incapable of making a report?
If you cannot make an immediate report after an accident, a passenger may make one on your behalf. If you are not the vehicle owner, the law requires the vehicle owner to make a report on your behalf if you are incapable.
Is leaving the scene of an accident a felony in South Carolina?
Yes. Under state law, if you hit and injure or kill someone and then fail to fulfill the driver requirements listed above, you are guilty of a felony. Also, it is worth noting that rendering reasonable assistance is a legal obligation, meaning failure may also result in criminal charges.
Section 56-5-1260 requires you to immediately notify the police whenever you are involved in a reportable accident as described above. The statute reads, quote:
“The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person shall immediately by the quickest means of communication, whether oral or written, give notice of such accident to the local police department if such accident occurs within a municipality, otherwise to the office of the county sheriff or the nearest office of the South Carolina Highway Patrol.”
Failure to report an accident involving property damage is a misdemeanor, whereas, if anyone dies or suffers an injury, failing to report is a felony.
DUI hit and run and South Carolina’s implied consent laws
South Carolina implied consent laws state that all drivers in the state consent to a breath, urine, and drug testing whenever they get behind the wheel. Consequently, refusing a sobriety test will result in mandatory license suspension for up to 90 days. If you have a prior DUI conviction, the penalty goes up to 180 days.
Under South Carolina’s negligence per se statute, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is an act of negligence. The charges escalate into gross negligence if the driver fails to exercise even slight care.
Section 16-3-60 reads, quote:
“Concerning the crime of involuntary manslaughter, criminal negligence is defined as the reckless disregard of the safety of others. A person charged with the crime of involuntary manslaughter may be convicted only upon a showing of criminal negligence as defined in this section. A person convicted of involuntary manslaughter must be imprisoned not more than five years.”
Depending on the facts presented, the driver may also face homicide charges.
What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in South Carolina?
- Hit and run involving property damage/unattended vehicle/ fixtures: misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine between $100 to $5000.
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving minor injuries: misdemeanor, punishable by not less than 30 days in jail and not more than one year, plus a fine not less than $100 and not more than $5000.
- Hit and run involving great bodily injury or death: felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison and a minimum fine of $5000.
- Involuntary manslaughter/DUI hit and run: felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
- Reckless vehicular homicide: felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, license revocation for 5 years, and a maximum fine of $5000.
Civil and administrative penalties
Depending on the facts presented. The court may impose punitive damages on the accused. On top of that, as mentioned, the victim may sue the driver to collect damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Is South Carolina a fault state?
Yes. Under state law, the at-fault party pays the victim.
The state has a comparative negligence rule that diminishes the amount you may recover based on your share of responsibility for the accident.
If you intend to file a claim, we recommend consulting with an attorney before the statute of limitations expires.
What is the statute of limitations on hit and run in South Carolina?
The statute of limitations on personal injury, property damage, and wrongful death in South Carolina -is three years. Note: Your claim expires if you fail to file a lawsuit within the set period.
Leaving the scene of an accident in South Carolina defense
As mentioned, you may leave the scene to transport the victim to a care facility. You may also leave the scene if you have a valid reason to fear for your safety. What is crucial to remember is that if anyone suffers an injury, death, or property damage above $1000. You must immediately notify the police using the quickest means available.
Other defenses include:
- Mistaken identity
- You were unaware of your involvement in a traffic collision.
- No one suffered injury, death, or property damage.
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