Leaving the Scene of an Accident

“The driver of a vehicle or street car involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person, or damage to property of any one person in excess of $500.00 shall by the quickest means of communication give notice of such accident to the local police department or to the nearest office of the county police of the county or of the State Police, and in addition shall within 10 days after such accident forward a written report of such accident to the commission on forms furnished by it. Such written reports shall contain sufficiently detailed information with reference to a motor vehicle accident, including the cause, the conditions then existing, the persons and vehicles involved and such information as may be necessary to enable the chief administrator to determine whether the requirements for the deposit of security required by law are inapplicable by reason of the existence of insurance or other circumstances. The chief administrator may rely upon the accuracy of the information contained in any such report, unless he has reason to believe that the report is erroneous. The commission may require operators involved in accidents to file supplemental reports of accidents upon forms furnished by it when in the opinion of the commission, the original report is insufficient. The reports shall be without prejudice, shall be for the information of the commission, and shall not be open to public inspection. The fact that the reports have been so made shall be admissible in evidence solely to prove a compliance with this section, but no report or any part thereof or statement contained therein shall be admissible in evidence for any other purpose in any proceeding or action arising out of the accident.”

Whenever the driver of a vehicle is physically incapable of giving immediate notice or making a written report of an accident as required in this section and there was another occupant in the vehicle at the time of the accident capable of giving notice or making a report, such occupant shall make or cause to be made said notice or report not made by the driver.

Whenever the driver is physically incapable of making a written report of an accident as required by this section and such driver is not the owner of the vehicle, then the owner of the vehicle involved in such accident shall make such report not made by the driver.

In those cases where a driver knowingly violates the provisions of this section by failing to make a written report of an accident, there shall be a permissive inference that the registered owner of the vehicle which was involved in that accident was the person involved in the accident; provided, however, if that vehicle is owned by a rental car company or is a leased vehicle, there shall be a permissive inference that the renter or authorized driver pursuant to a rental car contract or the lessee, and not the owner of the vehicle, was the person involved in the accident, and the requirements and penalties imposed pursuant to this section shall be applicable to that renter or authorized driver or lessee and not the owner of the vehicle.

Any person who suppresses, by way of concealment or destruction, any evidence of a violation of this section or who suppresses the identity of the violator shall be subject to a fine of not less than $250 or more than $1,000.

A written report of an accident shall not be required by this section if a law enforcement officer submits a written report of the accident to the commission pursuant to R.S.39:4-131.

Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person who knowingly violates this section shall be fined not less than $30 or more than $100.

The chief administrator may revoke or suspend the operator’s license privilege and registration privilege of a person who violates this section.

For purposes of this section, it shall not be a defense that the operator of the motor vehicle was unaware of the existence or extent of personal injury or property damage caused by the accident as long as the operator was aware that he was involved in an accident.

LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT 39:4-129

Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious offense in the state of New Jersey. Whether there is damage only to your vehicle or another person’s vehicles   it is pertinent that the accident be reported to the proper authorities.  When you are involved in an auto accident a series of steps must be taken to ensure that you are not charged with leaving the scene of an accident.   When involved in an automobile accident you must stop as close to the scene as possible without  obstructing the flow of traffic, as well as  provide your name, address, license, and registration to all parties involved, and notify the police and advise them of any injuries caused by the accident to either party. If there are no parties involved in the accident, you must make a good faith effort to try and locate the owner of the property or vehicle damaged.  If the owner of the damaged property can not be located, you must leave your name, address, and contact information safely and securely attached to the property and contact the proper authorities so the owner can be identified and informed in a timely manner.

While leaving the scene of an accident is a serious offense, it can escalate quickly depending on the severity of damage is caused.  If serious injury has been caused as a result of the accident it is considered a felony and the penalties can be amplified in comparison to an accident that only resulted in property damage.  When an injury is caused during an accident, and you are charged with leaving the accident scene the penalties can range from a minimum fine of $2,500 to a maximum fine of $5,000, as well as a six month imprisonment penalty that may replace or add to the penalties associated with this crime. In addition to these penalties there is also a mandatory one year loss of license, and eight points added onto your driving record for first offenses.  Any subsequent charge of leaving the scene of an accident where injury is involved will lead to the revocation of your license.

If there is property damaged during cases like these the penalties are reduced, however they can still have an adverse effect on your driving privileges.  The minimum fine is approximately $200 while the maximum is $400, as well as a one month jail sentence that may be imposed in addition to or replacement of the financial penalty.  Along with these penalties, there is a mandatory six month loss of license and two points added onto your driving record for first offenders.  For any subsequent leaving the scene charge the loss of license can go up to a year.    While these penalties are only incurred after you have been found to have knowingly been in an accident, and failed report it the judge may considered you to have known damage of over $250 was caused as a result.

If you find yourself charged with leaving the scene of an accident, failure to report an accident or any other traffic violation you should not go to court alone.  These charges are serious and have severe consequences. The legal team at The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC, has dealt with countless cases like these statewide, and has years of  experience working with local prosecutors and negotiating cases just like yours.

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