Washington Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- Washington Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?
- Washington hit and run laws explained: What happens if you leave the scene of an accident?
- Washington felony diversion program: How to avoid a criminal record after a hit and run in Washington
- What should you do immediately after an accident in Washington?
- Is leaving the scene of an accident a misdemeanor in Washington?
- Is leaving the scene of an accident in Washington a felony?
- What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in Washington?
- How is fault determined in Washington state?
- What is the statute of limitations on car accidents in Washington?
- Leaving the scene of an accident: Defense
The punishment for leaving the scene of an accident/hit and run in Washington is up to 90 days in jail for misdemeanor offenses. In addition, if the victim dies, the hit and run driver risks felony charges punishable by up to 10 years in prison plus a $20000 fine.
Quick take: Leaving the scene of an accident in Washington
- Evading the police is a felony in Washington.
- You must report any accident that results in death, injury, or property damage above $1000.
- Failure to report a reportable accident may result in additional charges.
- Washington’s felony diversion program is only available to first-time offenders.
- If you complete the diversion program, the state will clear your record.
- Washington is an at-fault state.
- You have three years to file a personal injury claim.
- RCW section 46.52.020 duty in case of personal injury, death, or damage to the attended vehicle or other property.
Washington hit and run laws explained: What happens if you leave the scene of an accident?
Under state law, a hit-and-run is a crime that occurs when a driver is involved in a traffic collision and leaves the scene without fulfilling the obligations listed in RCW section 46.52.020 “duty in case of personal injury or death or damage to attended vehicle or other property”.
What to do after an accident in Washington
Under section 46.52.020, you have a legal obligation to do the following whenever you are involved in an accident. Section 3 states that you must:
- Give your name, address, and insurer information, including insurance policy number and vehicle registration number to the struck person, struck property owner, or peace officer present at the scene.
- Exhibit your driver’s license to the struck person, a person attending to the struck person, or a peace officer upon request.
- Render reasonable assistance to anyone who needs it, including transporting the victim to a physician or hospital.
- You may move the vehicle if no one suffers death or serious injury.
If the accident leaves you physically incapable of fulfilling the requirements above, section 4(d) says that you do not have to. Also, if you fall unconscious or suffer injuries that require immediate medical assistance, leaving the scene to get medical aid is not a crime. Furthermore, if the victim requests it or if it is apparent that the individual requires immediate medical assistance. Transporting the victim to a hospital does not constitute a hit and run.
Washington felony diversion program: How to avoid a criminal record after a hit and run in Washington
In Washington, a person accused of committing a hit and run may avoid a criminal record by participating in the state’s misdemeanor or felony diversion program. To qualify for the program, you must be a first-time offender, and the decision to join is voluntary.
Why join Washington’s felony diversion program?
Upon completion of the program, the court will dismiss all charges, meaning you will not have a criminal record.
Washington state diversion program: What to remember
- The program ensures full restitution for the victim.
- Only first-time offenders are eligible.
- It is up to the prosecutor to decide who qualifies.
- You may appeal a decision to deny you entry at the office of the Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney.
- Persons charge with vehicular assault, homicide, or DUI hit and run do not qualify.
- You do not qualify if you elude or attempt to elude peace officers.
- You must not have a pending felony charge in any state.
What should you do immediately after an accident in Washington?
The events leading up to the collision and what you do after -determine the charge. Consequently, to reduce the fallout, you should:
- Immediately stop your vehicle and remain at the scene until peace officers arrive.
- Do not admit fault or use language that indicates guilt, such as “I’m sorry.”
- Do not engage in road rage.
- If the accident results in death, injury, or expensive property damage. Call a lawyer.
- Do not evade the police. It will lead to additional charges, and you may become ineligible for diversion.
- If the police arrest you, let your lawyer speak for you and do not discuss the details with other inmates.
Is leaving the scene of an accident a misdemeanor in Washington?
Yes. Under RCW 46.52.020. leaving the scene of an accident in Washington is a misdemeanor if you fail to fulfill the requirements of section 3. The statute reads in part, quote:
“Any driver covered by the provisions of subsection (1) of this section failing to stop or comply with any of the requirements of subsection (3) of this section in the case of an accident involving striking the body of a deceased person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor””
“Any driver covered by the provisions of subsection (2) of this section failing to stop or to comply with any of the requirements of subsection (3) of this section under said circumstances shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor: PROVIDED, that this provision shall not apply to any person injured or incapacitated by such accident to the extent of being physically incapable of complying herewith””
Subsection 2 requires you to move the vehicle as soon as possible if it endangers other motorists. The section reads:
“a) The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person or damage to other property must move the vehicle as soon as possible off the roadway or freeway main lanes, shoulders, medians, and adjacent areas to a location on an exit ramp shoulder, the frontage road, the nearest suitable cross street, or other suitable location. The driver shall remain at the suitable location until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of subsection (3) of this section. Moving the vehicle in no way affects fault for an accident””
What happens if you hit an unattended vehicle in Washington?
RCW 46.52.010 “Duty on striking unattended car or other property” requires you to make a reasonable effort to locate the property owner whenever you collide with an unattended vehicle or property. If you cannot find the owner, you may attach a note on a conspicuous section of the struck property.
The note should contain your name and address.
Failure to locate the owner or attach a note is a misdemeanor.
How long do you have to report an accident in Washington state?
Under state law, you must report any accident that results in death, injury, or property damage above $1000 within four days. Failure to report may result in additional charges.
Is leaving the scene of an accident in Washington a felony?
Yes. If anyone dies or suffers serious injuries, leaving the scene without fulfilling statutory obligations, including rendering reasonable assistance, is a felony.
If the victim dies, the hit and run driver is guilty of a class B felony.
If the victim suffers serious injuries, the driver is guilty of a class C felony.
Evading the police is a felony in Washington
Under section 46.61.024, evading and attempting to evade the police is a class C felony. the statute offers one affirmative defense, quote:
“It is an affirmative defense to this section which must be established by a preponderance of the evidence that: (a) A reasonable person would not believe that the signal to stop was given by a police officer, and (b) driving after the signal to stop was reasonable under the circumstances””
Note that upon conviction for evading or attempting to evade the police, the department of licensing will revoke your driving privileges.
Can a drunk driver be charged with manslaughter in Washington state?
Under RCW 46.61.520 “Vehicular Homicide” you are guilty of vehicular homicide when – quote:
“The death of any person ensues within three years as a proximate result of injury proximately caused by the driving of any vehicle by any person, the driver is guilty of vehicular homicide if the driver was operating a motor vehicle: (a) While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, as defined by RCW 46.61.502“”
Under the statute, vehicular homicide is a class A felony.
What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in Washington?
- Hit and run involving an unattended vehicle. Simple misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1000.
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving an attended vehicle. Gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a maximum fine of $5000.
- Hit and run involving serious injury. Class C felony. Punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10000.
- Leaving the scene of an accident involving death. Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20000 fine.
- DUI hit and run/vehicular homicide. Class A felony, punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison and a maximum fine of $50000.
A hit and run will impact your insurance premiums, and some insurers may deny you cover. Additionally, the victim has the option to take civil action.
If you are the victim, legal experts recommend that you do the following immediately after an accident.
- Immediately call the police if you suffer injury or property damage above $1000 or if the driver flees.
- Document the fleeing vehicles plates, colour, car make, damage, and other useful features.
- Collect evidence, including dashcam footage and witness testimonies, if capable.
- Do not admit blame or show guilt.
- Seek medical attention.
- Contact your insurer.
How is fault determined in Washington state?
Washington is a tort or “at-fault state” Because of that, the at-fault party pays the victim. The state has a “pure comparative fault rule” that allows claimants to collect compensation even if they are partly responsible for the accident.
What is the statute of limitations on car accidents in Washington?
Leaving the scene of an accident: Defense
Common defenses include:
- Leaving the scene was the quickest way to aid the victim
- Leaving the scene was not voluntary.
- You had a valid reason to fear for your safety.
- You were unaware of your involvement in a traffic collision.
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