The occurrence of hit-and-run accidents reached an all-time high within the last couple of years. According to the Automobile Association of America (AAA), in 2018, more than one hit-and-run crash occurs every minute on U.S. roads.Also, AAA also estimated that an average of 682,000 hit-and-run crashes occurred each year since 2006.
Like the laws of every other state in the U.S., Ohio law requires people to stop at an accident scene. The numbers referenced above clearly show that many people do not.
Failing to stop after a car crash in Ohio is a serious crime that has long-lasting consequences. If you are under investigation for involvement in a hit-and-run or you face hit-and-run charges in Ohio, you need an experienced and dedicated Ohio criminal defense attorney to work for you.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Ohio
Ohio’s motor vehicle law creates a legal duty for every motorist involved in an accident on a public street or highway to stop and identify themselves. The law requires all persons to stop immediately at the crash scene. At a minimum, the driver must give a name and residential address if they own the car. If they do not own the vehicle, then they must provide the owner’s information as well.
Ohio law requires the driver to provide identification to particular individuals involved in the collision. Those people include:
- Any injured parties,
- The responding police officers, and
- The person who is responsible for any other vehicle involved in the crash.
A motorist must remain at the accident scene until a police officer arrives if the injured person is not in a condition to take down the operator’s information.
Finally, the person who hits an unattended vehicle or another’s property must leave the information in a conspicuous place either inside or attached to the damaged vehicle.
Leaving the scene of an accident in Ohio that did not happen on a public way or public highway is also a crime. However, the driver involved in a crash that caused damages or injuries has 24 hours to report the incident to the law enforcement authorities.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Ohio Penalties
Leaving the scene of an accident is generally a first-degree misdemeanor. A first-degree misdemeanor in Ohio carries a maximum 180-day jail sentence and a fine of no more than $1,000.
The penalties become more severe as the seriousness of the crime increases. A person accused of hit and run in Ohio that caused a serious personal injury faces a fifth-degree felony charge. A fifth-degree felony charge carries the possibility of a prison sentence between six months and one year, along with a fine of no more than $2,500.
Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death is the most serious hit-and-run crime in Ohio. Possible penalties include a prison sentence between one and five years, along with a fine of $10,000.
Collateral Consequences of Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Ohio
In addition to criminal sanctions, the person convicted in Ohio of leaving the scene of an accident faces a class-five driver license suspension. A class-five suspension lasts from six months to three years. Also, Ohio will assess six points on the operator’s license. Accumulating 12 points in two years is grounds for a Class D suspension of up to six months.
Ohio Hit-and-Run Defense
Ohio hit-and-run law requires the prosecution to prove that the driver knew that an accident occurred beyond a reasonable doubt. Disputing the knowledge element of the charge could be a successful trial defense. Additionally, moving to suppress seized evidence or statements because the police violated the rights of the accused can bolster a strong defense strategy.
Seek Immediate Legal Representation for a Hit-and-Run
Police often doggedly pursue people who leave the scenes of accidents, especially those involving death or severe injury. Therefore, you must contact an aggressive and knowledgeable defense lawyer immediately for help protecting your rights. Remember that you have the right to refuse to speak with the police.
Call Gounaris Abboud, LPA, at 937-222-1515 for assistance. We will use our tremendous experience and unparalleled knowledge to defend your freedom.