Leaving the scene of an accident in Texas is illegal and can result in felony or misdemeanor charges. These offenses pose possible jail time, fines, and license suspension.
If you left the scene of an accident, our firm can address your charges. We aim to have our clients’ charges dropped, reduced, or dismissed. We have a host of legal strategies we can implement on your behalf.
Texas Law Requires All Involved Motorists to Stop at an Accident Scene
Texas Transportation Code § 550.021 notes that in the event of a collision, all involved motorists must:
- Stop at the accident scene
- Return to the accident scene if they didn’t stop immediately
- Call emergency services if someone is severely injured
- Administer aid while the paramedics are on the way
- Provide their contact information, including their insurance coverage details
Negligent Drivers Could Face These (and Other) Charges
You could face the following penalties after leaving an accident scene:
- A second-degree felony. Per Texas Penal Code § 12.33, a second-degree felony can result in two to 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Second-degree felonies apply to drivers who fled accidents that resulted in fatalities.
- A third-degree felony. Per Texas Penal Code § 12.34, a third-degree felony can range from two to 10 years in jail and a fine of $10,000. Third-degree felonies apply to drivers who left accidents that resulted in serious bodily injuries.
- Misdemeanor charges. Per Texas Transportation Code § 550.022, if an accident only involved property damage, the negligent party could face a Class B or Class C misdemeanor charge. The severity of the offense depends on the severity of the cars’ damage.
For a free legal consultation, call (972) 535-6377
A Hit-and-Run Charge Can Affect Your Entire Life
You could face more than criminal penalties if you’re convicted of leaving an accident scene in Texas. You could also face:
- License suspension. Depending on the nature of your offense, the state could prevent you from driving for a certain period.
- Problems applying for housing. Many landlords are hesitant to rent property to felons. Even if this is your first and only offense, you could have issues securing a place to live.
- Issues getting jobs. Similar to the reason listed above, employers think twice about hiring employees with criminal records. If you’re applying for a job that involves driving, your criminal past could complicate matters further.
Our firm won’t just address your criminal charges; we’ll address how your situation affects your life as a whole.
What Legal Defenses Can Support an Acquittal or Dismissal?
Our firm can use one or more of the following defenses to address your situation:
You did Not Know About the Accident
If you were driving a large vehicle, like an SUV, you might have attributed the impact to hitting a curb or running over debris–– not a collision. We could argue that because you didn’t know about the accident, you didn’t stop.
You Were Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs
Texas prohibits driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, if you were recently prescribed a medication and did not know about its side effects (like drowsiness, clouded judgment, etc.), we could argue that this impeded your driving ability.
After being involved in a collision, the “adrenaline rush” could have affected your logical reasoning. We can consult with medical experts to support this assertion.
You Needed Emergency Medical Care
You’re required to pull over at an accident scene even if you’re the injured party. However, if you suffered severe injuries, your priority might have been seeking medical attention – not exchanging insurance information.
We can use your medical records, doctor’s testimony, and personal statement to build your case.
The State Ran Out of Time to Pursue Criminal Charges
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 16.003 sets the statute of limitations for most car accident cases. However, this pertains to how long an injured claimant has to file a lawsuit – not how long the state has to file charges.
The state only has a limited time to prosecute you for a non-fatal hit-and-run accident. If the filing deadline expired on your criminal case, we can move for a dismissal in court.
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How Our Firm Advocates for Defendants in Texas
Our primary goal is to defend your legal rights. We can do this by:
- Identifying the at-fault driver
- Gathering evidence, such as witness testimony
- Navigating courtroom protocol
- Determining the cause of your accident
- Checking into the other motorist’s driving record
- Examining the vehicles’ black box data
We tailor our criminal defense services to meet our clients’ needs. As such, we can help in ways not listed here.
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Three Questions and Three Answers About Leaving the Accident Scene in Texas
As you consider legal representation, you might have questions on your mind. Right now, we can address these inquiries:
Can the Other Driver Sue Me If I Didn’t Cause the Accident?
Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code § 33.001 establishes Texas as a proportionate responsibility state. So, you generally can’t seek damages if you’re more than 51 percent responsible for the accident. If the other party primarily caused the accident, they cannot sue you.
However, if you fled the accident scene, this does not shield you from criminal charges. As noted, you’re still required to pull over at a collision scene even if you didn’t cause the crash.
Is It Hard Locating an Absent Driver?
It depends on the situation. Sometimes, law enforcement can find a hit-and-run driver immediately. Other times, officers must investigate for months before uncovering any leads.
If you injured someone in a hit-and-run accident, and law enforcement has not located you yet, consider calling our firm. That way, if you face criminal charges, we’ll be ready to counter them.
Is There a Difference Between a Hit-And-Run Driver and Leaving the Accident Scene?
Not really. If you leave the accident scene without providing basic information, this is still considered a hit-and-run. It’s almost the same as hitting another driver and driving away.
This is what makes considering legal aid crucial. Even if you made an honest mistake in failing to provide your information, this could still result in criminal charges.
Call Underwood Law Office to Explore Your Options
Begin your case review with our criminal defense firm by dialing (972) 535-6377. While leaving the scene of an accident in Texas is illegal, it does not leave you without legal recourse. We will defend your rights and seek the best possible outcome.