Hit & Run Accidents: What Georgia State Law Requires?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal hit and run crashes are trending upwards. In Georgia this year, there have been a number of hit and run cases. On February 2, 2018, Anthony Lingoes was the victim of a deadly hit and run that happened in Decatur in the 300 block of East College Avenue, near North Candler Street and Agnes Scott College. Just last month, 39-year-old Omari Young was arrested in connection to the accident and charged with vehicular homicide and hit and run. Another hit and run accident involved the death of 20-year-old Demonte Franklin back in June, who was hit and killed by a car at the intersection of Old National Highway and Jerome Road.
There are many reasons why a person chooses to leave the scene of an accident; however, it’s important to understand that doing so in the state of Georgia can be a serious offense.
How Hit and Runs Are Classified & Penalties
In Georgia, hit and runs can be prosecuted as misdemeanors or felonies. When a minor traffic accident occurs, in which, the other party does not sustain any physical injuries then the hit and run will be classified as a misdemeanor. Anyone guilty of a misdemeanor hit and run can be punished by a fine up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months. However, when an accident involves serious bodily injury or death to the other party then the hit and run will be classified as a felony. Anyone guilty of a felony hit and run can be punished by imprisonment for a minimum of one year and up to five years. Further, there are additional penalties for drivers convicted of subsequent hit and run offenses within a five-year period. O.C.G.A. 40-6-270.
Duties of Georgia Drivers
Under Georgia’s hit and run laws, O.C.G.A. 40-6-270, a driver involved in any accident must stop at or return to the scene of the accident when:
- The driver was involved in an accident that caused injury to another person;
- The driver was involved in an accident that resulted in the death of another person; and,
- The driver was involved in an accident that resulted in damage to another vehicle.
Further, once a driver stops at or returns to the scene, the driver has the responsibility under Georgia law to:
- Give his or her name and address and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving;
- Upon request and if it is available, exhibit his or her operator’s license to the person struck or the driver or occupant of or person attending any vehicle collided with;
- Render to any person injured in such accident reasonable assistance, including the transporting, or the making of arrangements for the transporting, of person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or if such transporting is requested by the injured person; and,
- Where a person injured in such accident is unconscious, appears deceased, or is otherwise unable to communicate, make every reasonable effort to ensure that emergency medical services and local law enforcement are contacted for the purpose of reporting the accident and making a request for assistance.
Defenses for Hit and Run Offenses
There are a number of possible defenses to protect your rights as a driver and to possibly avoid being charged and convicted with a hit and run. The best defense against a hit and run charge is to prove that you were not driving the vehicle that was involved in the accident. For example, if your car had been stolen and/or not in your possession at the time of the accident. Another defense to a hit and run charge is to prove that you abided by all of a driver’s responsibilities (listed above) that are required under Georgia law.
If You Have Been Charged with Hit and Run, Contact Bixon Law Today
Everyone facing criminal charges is entitled to effective representation, a fair trial and the right to an attorney. If you have been charged with a hit and run, we encourage you to contact Bixon Law today. Michael Bixon represents clients in Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia. He is committed to helping his clients through difficult situations and working to get them the best possible outcome. We invite you to call us at 404-551-5684 for a free consultation.