Wisconsin Hit and Run Laws

Wisconsin Hit and Run Laws: What happens if someone leaves the scene of an accident?

Yes. If you leave the scene of an accident without exchanging information and rendering reasonable assistance, you are guilty of a misdemeanor if the accident involves property damage or a felony if anyone dies or suffers serious injuries.

Quick take: Leaving the scene of an accident in Wisconsin

  • Wisconsin hit-and-run laws provide five affirmative defenses (see below).
  • You have 24 hours to report an accident.
  • Witnesses and vehicle owners have a legal obligation to report a hit and run.
  • Failure to report will result in additional charges.
  • Wisconsin is a fault state.
  • You have three years to file a personal injury claim.
  • Victims may recover compensation from insurers and you may file a civil lawsuit.


Wisconsin hit and run laws explained: What happens if you leave the scene of an accident?

Under section 346.67, “Duty upon striking person or attended or occupied vehicle” through to 346.70, “Duty to report accident; assistance following an accident,” you must immediately stop your vehicle and fulfill the requirements listed in section 346.67. Failure to fulfill the requirements listed below makes you guilty of a hit and run.

What to do after an accident in Wisconsin

Section 346.67 says that you must:

  • Immediately stop your vehicle after a collision and reasonably investigate what you struck if you know or have reason to know that the Collision resulted in death or injury.
  • Give your name, address, and vehicle registration number to the struck person, property owner, or law enforcement officer at the scene.
  • Upon request and if available, you must exhibit your driver’s license to the struck person, a person attending to the victim, or a peace officer.
  • Render reasonable assistance to anyone who may need it, including transporting the victim to a physician or hospital.
  • Do not obstruct traffic more than is necessary.

What is vital to remember is section 3 of the statute, that reads, quote:

“A prosecutor is not required to allege or prove that an operator knew that he or she collided with a person or a vehicle driven or attended by a person in a prosecution under this section.”

Can you go to jail for a hit and run in Wisconsin?

Yes. If you commit a hit-and-run in all states, including Wisconsin, you may go to jail. However, doing the following may help you avoid a criminal record.

  • Stop your vehicle, investigate the scene, and remain there until law enforcement officers arrive.
  • If the victim dies or if you were transporting hazardous materials, do not move the vehicle unless instructed to do so by a peace officer or emergency worker.
  • Never admit fault or show guilt at the scene.
  • Contact an attorney if the victim dies, suffers a serious injury, or if the accident results in expensive property damage.
  • Contact your insurer.
  • If the victim requests it or if it is apparent that immediate medical assistance is necessary, you may transport the individual to a physician or care facility.
  • File a police report within the set time.

Is a hit-and-run/leaving the scene of an accident a misdemeanor in Wisconsin?

Under section 346.74. “Penalty for violating sections 346.67 to 346.73.” You are guilty of a misdemeanor if you leave the scene of an accident involving property damage alone. For a first violation, the penalty is a maximum fine of $1000 and a maximum sentence of six months.

If the victim suffers minor injuries, the penalty escalates up to 9 months in jail and a maximum fine of $10000.

Witness Duties in Wisconsin

Section 346.675. “Vehicle’s owner’s liability for failing to stop at the scene of an accident” says that anyone who witnesses a violation of section 346.67 (see above) has a legal obligation to report the violation within twenty-four hours. If not, the state may hold you liable. The same requirement applies to the vehicle owner, meaning, if your vehicle is involved in a hit and run, you must report the accident within 24 hours -even if you were not the person behind the wheel.

For witnesses, you must report:

  • A description of the violation.
  • The location of the incident.
  • Damage done to property or vehicle.
  • Vehicle color and registration number.

Remember section 4 (a) reads, quote:

“It shall be no defense to a violation of this section that the owner was not operating the vehicle at the time of the violation.”

The penalty for failure to report a hit and run is a $1000 fine if you are the vehicle owner and a $100 fine if you witness a violation.

Section 6(c) reads:

“Imposition of liability under s. 346.675 shall not result in suspension or revocation of a person’s operating privilege under s. 343.30 or 343.31, nor shall it result in demerit points being recorded on a person’s driving record under s. 343.32 (2) (a).”

What happens if you hit an unattended vehicle in Wisconsin?

Section 346.68. “Duty upon striking unattended vehicle” says that if you hit an unattended vehicle or property, you must try to locate the struck property owner. If you cannot find the owner, you must leave a note on a conspicuous section of the struck vehicle or property. The note should contain your name, address, and a statement of circumstances.

Failure to leave a note or locate the owner is punishable by a $200 fine.

What is a reportable accident in Wisconsin?

Section 346.70, “Duty to report an accident” states that you must report any accident that results in death, injury, or property damage above $1000. If you hit state or government property, you must report the accident if the damage is above $200.

The statute requires you to report any accident that fits the criteria above using the “quickest means of communication.”

Failure to report a reportable accident is punishable by a fine -not less than $25 nor more than $50.

Is leaving the scene of an accident a felony in Wisconsin?

Yes. Under Wisconsin hit and run laws, if you leave the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury, you are guilty of a Class E felony. “Great bodily injury” refers to injury that puts the victim at significant risk of death, long-term/permanent paralysis, or disfigurement.

If the victim dies, the hit and run driver is guilty of a class D felony.

What is the penalty for leaving the scene of an accident in Wisconsin?

  • Hit and run involving property damage. Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a maximum fine of $1000.
  • Hit and run involving an unattended vehicle. Misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $200 for a first offense.
  • Failure to report a reportable accident. Infraction, Punishable by a maximum fine of $1000.
  • Leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury. Class E felony, punishable by up to 15 years in state prison and a maximum fine of $50000.
  • Leaving the scene of an accident involving death. Class D felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison and a maximum fine of $100000.

How do victims of a hit and run recover compensation in Wisconsin?

If you have insurance, you may file a claim with your insurer. You may also take civil action against the hit and run driver to recover damages, including lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, or other suitable damages. We recommend consulting with an attorney before the statute of limitations expires.

What victims should do after a hit and run in Wisconsin

If you are involved in a traffic collision and the other driver flees, you should:

How is fault determined in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin is a fault state. That means the at-fault party pays.

The state has a “contributory Negligence” statute that reads, quote:

“Contributory negligence does not bar recovery in an action by any person or the person’s legal representative to recover damages for negligence resulting in death or injury to person or property if that negligence was not greater than the negligence of the person against whom recovery is sought, but any damages allowed shall be diminished in the proportion to the amount of negligence attributed to the person recovering. The negligence of the plaintiff shall be measured separately against the negligence of each person found to be causally negligent. The liability of each person found to be causally negligent whose percentage of causal negligence is less than 51 percent is limited to the percentage of the total causal negligence attributed to that person. A person found to be causally negligent whose percentage of causal negligence is 51 percent or more shall be jointly and severally liable for the damages allowed.”

What is the statute of limitations on accidents in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin hit and run laws: Affirmative defenses

Section 346.675(4)(b)1 provides five affirmative defenses for hit and run in Wisconsin:

  • You reported the vehicle stolen within a reasonable time before the hit and run incident.
  • You fulfilled the statutory obligations listed above.
  • If you lease a vehicle to someone and the lessee commits a hit and run, the vehicle owner is not guilty.
  • If the accident occurred during a test drive for a vehicle. The dealer is not guilty.
  • Another person was convicted for the crime.

Other Wisconsin Laws