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If you have received injuries from a hit and run accident, you may wonder, is leaving the scene of an accident a felony? More than 15,000 accidents every year in Arizona are hit and run collisions, and the penalties associated with them can be severe.

Is Leaving the Scene of an Accident a Felony or Misdemeanor?

If a driver hits another car, a pedestrian, a cyclist or a structure and then flees the scene, this is a hit and run accident. The state considers this to be a crime, even if the person who leaves the scene did not cause the accident.

In the event a driver hits a parked and unoccupied vehicle, or a structure that is not a vehicle, the driver should do his or her best to locate the driver/owner or leave a note with contact information. 

The classification of a hit and run crime depends on whether there was property damage, injuries or death as a result of the crash.

If the collision resulted in only property damage to the other driver’s vehicle, it is a class 1 misdemeanor. When an accident involves an unoccupied vehicle or non-vehicle property, it may result in a class 3 misdemeanor, which is the least severe misdemeanor.

If there were serious injuries or death, it is a class 3 felony. However, if the driver who fled is at-fault for the accident, it is a class 2 felony. If the accident involves injuries that are not serious, it is a class 5 felony.

The exception to these scenarios being crimes is if a driver leaves the sight of the collision in order to get emergency assistance and then immediately returns to the scene.

What Are the Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident?

A woman fears her consequences for leaving the scene of an accident.

The penalties for being guilty of leaving the accident scene vary based on the classification of the crime. For a misdemeanor, the court may order a license suspension for up to a year. In addition, the defendant may face fines, jail time or both. If there is suspected use of alcohol or drugs, the driver may also have to complete an alcohol treatment program before the reinstatement of the license.

The penalties for a felony are much stiffer. There is license suspension, but the amount of time varies:

  • Accident involving nonserious injuries: 3 years
  • Accident involving serious injuries: 5 years, not including incarceration time
  • Accident involving death: 10 years, not including incarceration time

Convicted felony defendants also often need to pay steep fines and may face incarceration for years.

What Should You Do If You Were in a Hit and Run Accident?

Now that you know whether leaving the scene of an accident is a felony or a misdemeanor, you may be wondering what you should do if you received injuries in a crash in which the other driver fled. We at Sargon Law Group have the skills to investigate hit and run accidents, even if you do not yet know the identity of the other driver. Contact us today so we can review your case.