Leaving the scene of an accident – also called a hit-and-run – can be a felony offense in Illinois. It’s far more serious than a mere traffic ticket.
If convicted, you could be looking at jail time, steep fines and loss of your driver’s license – not to mention a permanent conviction on your criminal record. It could also cost you your livelihood if you have a CDL (commercial driver’s license).
In short, it’s not something to take lightly.
What exactly is a hit-and-run?
Illinois law makes it a crime to leave the scene of an accident involving property damage, injuries or loss of life. This means you could face misdemeanor charges for hitting a parked car (or an occupied one) and driving away without leaving your contact information. If another person saw you and took down your license plate, or if you were on camera, you could find yourself served with a criminal complaint on top of an insurance claim.
The more serious cases involve injury or loss of life. In these kinds of crashes, you’re legally obligated to stop and provide “reasonable assistance” to help the injured parties get medical attention. You’re also required to provide your contact and insurance information and to report the accident to the authorities. If you don’t, you could end up facing felony charges with harsh potential consequences.
Addressing these charges
There are complex psychological reasons why people leave the scene of an accident. Of course, it’s not every day you get into a car accident, and it’s not something you can plan or prepare for in advance. When it happens, your fight-or-flight instinct may kick in and you may find yourself fleeing, unable to psychologically address what happened.
No matter the circumstances, you deserve a strong and skilled defense. A good lawyer can help you address the charges in a way that reduces or avoids the harsh consequences of a felony conviction.