Hit and Run

Fundamentals of Criminal Law by Adam J. McKee

Hit and run refers to the act of causing a vehicle accident and then leaving the scene without identifying oneself or aiding the victims. This section explores the legal implications of hit and run, emphasizing its seriousness and the duty of drivers in accidents.

Definition and Overview

A hit-and-run offense occurs when a driver is involved in an accident with another vehicle, pedestrian, or property and leaves the scene without providing contact information or offering help.

Legal Duty: After an accident, drivers are legally required to stop, exchange information, and assist any injured parties.

Penalties: Consequences for committing a hit-and-run can be severe, including fines, license revocation, and imprisonment.

Historical Development

The concept of hit-and-run emerged with the advent of motor vehicles. Initially, laws were limited, but as vehicle use increased, the need for accountability in accidents became evident.

Early Laws: These focused on compensation for damages rather than penalizing the act of fleeing.

Evolution of Responsibility: Over time, laws evolved to emphasize the moral and legal responsibility to remain at the scene.

Modern Statutory Interpretations

Today’s hit-and-run laws are more comprehensive:

Severity-Based Penalties: Penalties vary based on the accident’s severity, from minor property damage to serious bodily injury or death.

Model Penal Code (MPC): The MPC does not specifically address hit and run, but its principles influence state laws on responsibility and accountability following accidents.

Unattended Vehicle Clause: Some jurisdictions include hitting an unattended vehicle and not leaving contact information as a form of hit and run.

Summary of Elements

A hit-and-run offense typically involves:

  1. Involvement in an Accident: The driver must be involved in a vehicle collision.
  2. Failure to Stop and Report: Leaving the scene without providing contact information or assisting injured parties.

🔍 Reflect: How does the law balance the rights of an accident victim and the responsibilities of a driver involved in a hit-and-run?

Modification History

File Created:  07/17/2018

Last Modified:  12/01/2023

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This work is licensed under an Open Educational Resource-Quality Master Source (OER-QMS) License.

Open Education Resource--Quality Master Source License


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