Pursuant to Ohio law, motorists are required to stop immediately and remain at the scene of an accident until they have provided their name, address, and license plate number to any person injured in the crash, an occupant, an operator, or owner or any police officer.
If the other vehicle is not occupied, motorists should securely attach their information in writing conspicuously on the vehicle. If the other driver cannot record or comprehend the information, the motorist should notify police and wait for emergency personnel or law enforcement.
When involved in a crash that causes damage to real property or personal property, motorists must stop and take reasonable measures to find and notify the owner of the property and provide the above information. If the owner cannot be found, the motorist should forward information to the city or village police department within 24 hours.
Under Ohio’s failure to stop laws, motorists who fail to stop after a motor vehicle accident to share contact information can be charged with a hit and run, also known as a hit-skip or leaving the scene of an accident.
If convicted for leaving the scene of an accident, you can face serious penalties under Ohio law. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, a hit and run can be a first-degree misdemeanor or up to a second-degree felony. Penalties can include not only jail or prison time but significant fines, loss of your driver’s license, and points on your license.
The classification of the charge mostly depends on whether the accident resulted in injuries or death.
In most cases, failure to stop after an accident is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and up to $500 in fines and penalties. Along with jail time, you will face a minimum driver’s license suspension of six months.
If someone was seriously injured in the accident, the charge is automatically increased.
If the accident causes a serious injury, the charge can become a fifth-degree felony punishable by 6-12 months in prison and up to $2,500 in fines. There is also a minimum license suspension of 6 months. It can be increased to a fourth-degree felony with up to 18 months in prison if you were aware of the serious injury before leaving the scene.
A third-degree felony will be charged if you are convicted of fleeing the scene of an accident that caused a death. This comes with a penalty of up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines along with license suspension. If you were aware the accident caused a death and left the scene, the charge can be upgraded to a second-degree felony punishable by up to 8 years in prison.
If you had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater, or you were under the influence of a controlled substance, fleeing the scene of an accident that causes injury or death can come with charges of vehicular assault or vehicular homicide. These charges are first, second, or third degree felonies.
If you are involved in an accident that only causes property damage and you cannot locate the owner, you are given 24 hours under the law to report the
incident to law enforcement. If you are arrested and charged before the 24-hour period is up, you may have a strong defense.
If you are facing a hit and run charge, it’s crucial to contact a defense lawyer as soon as possible. A hit and run charge can be frightening and threatens not only your ability to drive but also your freedom. The sooner you speak with a lawyer, the sooner you can begin exploring defense options and gathering evidence to defend yourself.