Early this past Sunday morning, a woman driving along a northern San Diego County road fell asleep at the wheel and hit two people who were jogging on the side of the road. It is thought that neither drugs nor alcohol were a factor in the crash. Unfortunately, both joggers were injured and had to be taken to a local hospital.
The driver in this incident remained at the scene of the accident until law enforcement from the city of Poway arrived, and was later released. This situation serves as an important reminder that California law requires drivers involved in an accident that results in injuries to others to stop, provide aid, and exchange all necessary contact information. Failure to do so can result in serious criminal charges, including a charge of hit and run.
Watch Out for Hit and Run Charges
If you are involved in an accident that results in injuries, the California Vehicle Code requires you to:
- Immediately stop your vehicle at the scene of the accident;
- Provide “reasonable assistance” to any individuals injured as a result of the accident;
- Exchange contact information with the other individuals, including your name, address, vehicle registration number, and the name/address of the owner of the vehicle; and
- Notify local law enforcement or the California Highway Patrol if someone has sustained fatal injuries in the crash.
Providing “reasonable assistance” to anyone injured in a crash – which includes other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians – involves calling 911 to summon medical assistance and transportation for the injured party.
Penalties for Hit and Run
If you fail to perform any of these requirements after a crash, you could be charged under California law with either a felony or misdemeanor hit and run, even if you were not at fault in the accident. These charges carry potentially serious legal consequences, including up to a year in jail, significant monetary fines of up to $10,000, and a permanent entry on your criminal record. Should the accident you were involved in result in the death or permanent, serious injury of another person, the resulting hit and run charges can carry higher consequences of up to four years in state prison, or a fine of up to $10,000, or both.