Arizona’s Hit and Run Laws – Leaving the Scene of an Accident

ARS 28-661, ARS 28-662, ARS 28-663, ARS 28-664, ARS 28-665, ARS 28-666

Under Arizona’s vehicle accident laws, drivers involved in an accident have a duty to remain at the scene, exchange information, and display a driver’s license upon request. If the accident involves injury, drivers must render reasonable assistance, help coordinate medical transportation, and give notice to law enforcement.

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    In the case of hitting an unattended parked vehicle, drivers must immediately stop and try to locate the owner. If the owner cannot be found, drivers must leave a note that provides the name and address of the driver and vehicle owner. In cases of hitting roadway property—such as signs, mailboxes, and fences—drivers must make reasonable efforts to notify the owner and provide their name, address and vehicle registration number.

    Drivers who fail to comply with these duties may be prosecuted. When an accident involves injury, drivers face felony prosecution. When an accident doesn’t involve injury, drivers face misdemeanor prosecution.

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    Types of Criminal Charges In An Arizona Hit & Run Case

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    Leaving the Scene of an Accident that Only Involves Vehicle Damage

    Misdemeanor Hit and Run – ARS 28-662 – Leaving the Scene of an Accident that Only Involves Vehicle Damage.

    If an Arizona accident only results in vehicle damage, with no injuries, drivers must immediately stop and remain at the scene, or return as soon as possible. Drivers must then exchange requisite information. A violation of this statute is a class 2 misdemeanor.

    Leaving the Scene after Hitting a Parked Vehicle

    Misdemeanor Hit and Run – ARS 28-664 – Leaving the Scene after Hitting a Parked Vehicle.

    Drivers, who hit a parked car, must stop and do either of the following: (1) locate the owner of the parked car to provide their name and address; or, (2) leave a conspicuous note that provides their name and address. If the driver doesn’t own the vehicle, the driver must also provide the owner’s name and address. A violation of this statute is a class 3 misdemeanor.

    Leaving the Scene of an Accident that Results in Damage to Non-Vehicle Property

    Misdemeanor Hit and Run – ARS 28–665 – Leaving the Scene of an Accident that Results in Damage to Non-Vehicle Property.

    Common examples of this include hitting a sign, fence, or mailbox. After striking property that’s on or adjacent to a roadway, drivers must take reasonable steps to locate and notify the owner and provide their name, address and vehicle registration number. If the owner asks, drivers must also display their license. A violation of this statute is a class 3 misdemeanor.

    Refusal or Failure to Exchange Information at an Accident Scene

    Refusal or Failure to Exchange Information at an Accident Scene – ARS 28-663

    Drivers who refuse or fail to exchange information after an accident can be charged with a class 3 misdemeanor. Drivers must provide their name and address, their vehicle registration number, and display their license upon request.

    Leaving the Scene of an Accident that Results in Injury or Death

    Felony Hit and Run – ARS 28-661 – Leaving the Scene of an Accident that Results in Injury or Death.

    Drivers involved in an accident that results in injury or death must remain at the scene or return as soon as possible. Drivers then must provide their name, address, vehicle registration number, and license. In addition, because there’s an injury, the driver must render reasonable assistance, help coordinate medical transportation, and notify law enforcement. The felony hit and run classification is dictated by the nature of the accident. If the driver causes an accident that results in serious injury or death, the driver can be charged with a class 2 felony. If the driver didn’t cause the accident, but was still involved in an accident involving serious injury or death, the driver can be charged with a class 3 felony. If the accident involves only non-serious injury, it should only be charged as a class 5 felony. If a driver remains, but fails to offer reasonable assistance to an injured person, the driver can still be charged with a class 6 felony under ARS 28-663(A)(3).

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    Experienced Hit And Run Defense From a Former Prosecutor

    As a former prosecutor, Timothy Tobin is the best choice for anyone facing a hit and run defense case. He knows the intimate details and legalities surrounding hit and runs, and has successfully defended hundreds of clients in your position. Fighting for your rights is the passion of Tobin Law Offices, and you can trust that every detail will be carefully considered. Call us today to schedule your first consultation!

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    Common Defenses to Hit and Run / Leaving the Scene of an Accident

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    Lack of Knowledge

    The prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you knew you were involved in an accident. State v. Lee (1939) Ariz. Whether a driver had knowledge of a collision can be proved by circumstantial evidence; but still, the prosecutor must show that the driver must have known of the collision. Id. “Common sense and justice alike revolt at the idea that a man may be held criminally responsible for something which he does not even know he has done.” Id.

    Lack of Knowledge
    Lack of criminal intent

    Lack of Criminal Intent

    The necessary criminal intent required under the hit and run statutes is the willful failure of the driver to perform any one of the duties required by Arizona law. State v. Milligan (Ariz. 1960). Leaving the scene of an accident, or a violation of one of the driver duties, requires a willful intent, which is the same as doing something knowingly. The Arizona Legislature defined the term “wilfully” in A.R.S. § 1–215(41) as meaning, “with respect to conduct or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense, that a person is aware or believes that the person’s conduct is of that nature or that the circumstance exists.” The Legislature used identical language in A.R.S. § 13–105(10)(b) to define “knowingly.” An example of this defense is where a driver attempts to move his vehicle to a safe location, but upon returning to the scene, cannot find the other drivers; this is not a willful non-compliance.

    Mistake of Fact

    This is where the driver doesn’t realize he actually hit a car, person, or property. The noise or vibration may have an alternate explanation. For example, a driver may have reasonably concluded that he hit an animal or road debris. Or maybe, the collision was so minor or slight, it could not be heard or felt by the driver. Or maybe, a driver doesn’t realize there was damage.

    Mistake of fact
    Misdemeanor compromise

    Misdemeanor Compromise

    While not technically a defense, a misdemeanor compromise allows a Defendant to settle with a victim outside of Court in exchange for getting a misdemeanor dismissed. Such an agreement needs to be agreed upon with the prosecutor and victim.

    Necessity

    A Defendant may raise a necessity defense related to safety concerns. A driver may leave an accident scene due to reasonably perceived danger. For example, after an accident, the driver may have a reasonable fear of road-rage, robbery, violence, or sexual assault. The argument is that the Driver’s decision to leave the accident was to preserve life and safety, which trumps legal obligations.

    Necessity
    Lack of Knowledge of Injury to a Victim

    Lack of Knowledge of Injury to a Victim

    In a felony hit and run, the prosecutor must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, knowledge of personal injury to the victim. In State v. Porras, Ariz. (App.1980), the Court determined that felony liability only attaches where a defendant has actual knowledge of the personal injury or knowledge that the accident was of such a nature that one would reasonably anticipate injury.

    No Serious Injury or No Injury at All

    In felony prosecution, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the type of injury that’s alleged. The injury can be challenged through cross examination, presenting independent evidence, and argument.

    No Serious Injury or No Injury at All
    Constitutional Violations

    Constitutional Violations

    Right to counsel, search and seizure, Miranda, and coerced statements can all lead to the suppression of evidence and testimony. Constitutional violations may limit the evidence presented, or in some cases, lead to a dismissal.

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    Frequently Asked Questions from Hit & Run Defendants

    What Constitutes Injury Or Serious Injury?

    What Constitutes Injury Or Serious Injury?

    The definition of injury is significant because it determines whether someone can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. The definition of serious injury is also significant because it determines the felony level a driver faces. Under ARS 13-105, physical injury is defined as the impairment of physical condition. This includes the slightest of injury, such as slight bruising or redness of the skin. Serious injury is defined as any injury that causes reasonable risk of death, serious and permanent disfigurement, loss or protracted impairment of an organ or limb function, or serious impairment of health.

    Injured man on the scene of a car accident

    What Does It Mean To Be Involved In An Accident, So That A Driver Must Remain At The Scene, Exchange Information, And Render Reasonable Assistance To Injured Persons?

    Arizona Courts apply a broad definition to what it means to be involved in an accident. Arizona Courts may consider a driver involved in the accident even if the driver didn’t actually strike a vehicle, person, or property. Thus, even when drivers are only slightly involved in an accident, they should be careful to remain at the scene and comply with statutory duties. For example, when a driver races another driver that results in an accident with a third vehicle, Arizona Courts have found this to be sufficiently involved to subject both drivers to prosecution. The Court determined that a driver is involved if the driver “actively participates in the immediate chain of events culminating in the collision.” State v. Korovkin, (Ariz. App. 2002). In another example, the Court has found a driver to be sufficiently involved when a passenger jumped out of a moving car. State v. Rodgers (Ariz. App. 1995). The Court explained that even though the vehicle was not involved in a collision, and the driver wasn’t necessarily responsible for the passenger jumping out, the driver still had to remain at that scene.

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    Professional Hit And Run Defense Attorney, Timothy Tobin

    Our commitment at Tobin Law Offices is to defend our clients to the best of our ability and fight for their maximum compensation, while not overcharging them. All of our service rates are simple, affordable, and straightforward. We can guarantee that there are zero hidden fees or surcharges. The attorneys at Tobin Law Offices proudly offer reasonable payment plans for criminal defense cases, so that clients of all financial standing have the opportunity to receive excellent legal guidance. Finances should not be the reason anyone is left to deal with the repercussions of a hit and run by themselves. When you consult with our attorneys at Tobin, be sure to ask about our payment plan options.

    Misdemeanor Penalties for Hit and Run / Leaving the Scene

    Misdemeanor Penalties for Hit and Run / Leaving the Scene

    If your case is in a City, Municipal, or Justice Court, you’re facing misdemeanor charges. Misdemeanor leaving the scene will be charged as either a class 2 or 3 misdemeanor. Although you can theoretically be charged and convicted of more than one misdemeanor, only one misdemeanor sentence may be imposed. Maximum misdemeanor penalties are dictated by the highest level misdemeanor you’re charged with.

    • A class 2 misdemeanor carries up to 4 months jail, 2 years probation, and $1372.50 in fines and surcharges.
    • A Class 3 Misdemeanor carries up to 30 days jail, 1 year probation, and $915.00 in fines and surcharges.

    In addition to a criminal conviction on your record, additional potential penalties include: 1 year license suspension; jail incarceration fees; restitution; drug/alcohol screening and treatment; community service; classes; counseling; and, the inability to get car insurance.

    Felony Penalties for Hit and Run / Leaving the Scene

    First-time felony offense sentencing Class 2

    Class 2

    If the driver causes and leaves an accident that results in serious injury or death, the driver can be charge with a class 2 felony. With a class 2 felony, the driver faces anywhere from probation to 12.5 years in prison. If the driver has a prior felony record, the driver faces up to 35 years in prison. Additionally, if convicted, the driver’s license must be revoked for 10 years.

    First-time felony offense sentencing Class 3

    Class 3

    If the driver didn’t cause the accident, but still left an accident scene involving serious injury or death, the driver can be charged with a class 3 felony. With a class 3 felony, the driver faces anywhere from probation to 8.75 years in prison. If the driver has a prior felony record, the driver faces up to 25 years in prison. Additionally, if convicted, the driver’s license must be revoked for 5 years.

    First-time felony offense sentencing Class 4

    Class 5

    If the driver left an accident involving only non-serious injury, the driver can be charged with a class 5 felony. With a class 5 felony, the driver faces anywhere from probation to 2.5 years prison. If the driver has a prior felony record, the driver faces up to 7.5 years in prison. Additionally, if convicted the driver’s license must be revoked for 3 years.

    Felony consequences
    • Mandatory Consecutive Sentencing: If a Defendant is convicted of another crime related to the same accident, any prison must be served consecutively. For example, if a driver is sentenced to 2.5 years for DUI and another 2.5 years for leaving the scene of the accident, the driver must serve a total of 5 years. This can give the prosecutor significant leverage in plea negotiations.
    • Drug and Alcohol Treatment: If the accident involved the use of drugs or alcohol, the Court will make the Defendant complete alcohol and drug treatment.
    • Additional Felony Consequences: Arizona felonies can have additional consequences such as an inability to obtain or keep professional licenses or jobs, loss of government assistance, loss of civil rights, and loss of the right to bear arms.

    Call or Text Tobin Law Office at 480-447-4837 for a Free Consultation on Arizona’s Hit and Run Laws

    Tobin Law Office offers free, friendly, and confidential consultations. We’re glad to give you as much information as we can to help you understand what you’re facing. If we can help you in your case, we’d be glad to.

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