Suppose you're in a car accident. You see there's a dent on the side of the other vehicle at the impact spot, but the other driver doesn't look hurt. Of course, if they were injured, you would get out of your car and give them your information. But there's no injury, just a little damage, there's no need to exchange information, right?
Wrong. Leaving the scene of an accident, whether or not someone suffered an injury, is a crime. Commonly referred to as a hit-and-run, this offense occurs when you don’t remain at the collision site or you drive off without giving the other motorist the information you're required by law to provide.
What Do You Do After an Accident Involving Vehicle Damage?
Just as with a collision that results in injury or death, when the accident results in damage to your or the other person's car, you must stop your vehicle at the scene. If you're unable to safely stop there, you must pull to an area of the road that's close to where the crash happened and return to where the other driver is (if they didn't also move to another part of the highway). Additionally, you must ensure you are not blocking traffic at the place where you've stopped your cars – that is unless one of the vehicles cannot run.
After you've safely pulled over, you and the other driver must give each other your:
- Registration numbers
- Vehicle owner's names (if different from the driver)
- Driver's license (if requested by the other driver)
What Happens if I Fail to Exchange Information?
If you do not stop at the scene of an accident where vehicle damage occurred, you could be facing severe consequences. The offense is charged as a Class A misdemeanor. If you're convicted, you could be imprisoned for no more than 1 year, and be fined up to $2,500.
In addition to the criminal consequences of a hit-and-run conviction, you'll also face administrative penalties – ones not imposed by the court. Upon your conviction, your information will be sent to the Secretary of State, which may suspend your driver's license or nonresident's driving privileges.
Are There Other Consequences of Causing an Accident?
Aside from being criminally charged for failing to stay at the scene of an accident, you could also be cited. Under 625 ILCS 5/11-601, when you drive on a state highway, you must not go above the posted speed limit, and you must maintain a speed that ensures the safety of people and/or property. That means, in some cases, you are required to slow down.
Approaching a scene that could potentially cause an accident is one of those situations where you must reduce your speed. If you fail to do so, you could be cited for not slowing down to avoid hitting a person, another vehicle, or some other object on or near the highway.
In Illinois, failure to reduce speed is a petty offense, and, if you are convicted, you could be fined up to $1,000.
For Skilled Defense, Reach Out to the Law Office of Steven Fine
If you’re facing a misdemeanor or felony charge in Chicago, our attorney is ready to provide the defense you need to fight the allegations. Backed by over 2 decades of legal experience, we know what it takes to seek a favorable outcome in these types of cases.
Schedule a free consultation by calling us at (312) 436-0638 or contacting us online.