In Arizona, drivers involved in motor vehicle accidents must adhere to state statutes or face severe penalties. According to A.R.S. §28-661, §28-662, §28-663, §28-664, §28-665, a person can be charged with a Hit and Run or Leaving the Scene crime when they are involved in an accident yet fail to stop their vehicle immediately at the scene or as close as possible to where the accident occurred. Upon stopping their vehicle, drivers are also responsible for exchanging insurance and personal contact information and must provide assistance to anyone who has been injured or sustained damage to their vehicle.
Watch as David Michael Cantor explains the Arizona Hit and Run laws:
Drivers who are involved in an accident with an unattended vehicle or roadside structure are not excluded from these statutes. In these instances, a driver must immediately stop their vehicle and attempt to locate the owner or person responsible for the property. If no one can be found, then an Arizona driver must leave a written notice in a conspicuous area that provides the name and address of who was driving the vehicle responsible for the collision. Failing to take these steps can lead to a person being charged with a hit and run in Arizona.
Penalties You May Face with a Hit and Run Charge
Penalties you may face when charged with leaving the scene can vary according to the severity of injuries or damages that occurred along with your prior history. Here are the potential penalties that you could be facing:
- If the defendant caused the accident and serious injuries or death occurred as a result, then this will be classified as a class two felony. Penalties for a class two felony include having your license revoked for five years and the possibility of serving one year of probation up to 12 years prison-time.
- Those with prior convictions for leaving the scene of an accident will have their prison-time increased to 23 years for one prior conviction and 35 years for those with two.
- If a person did not cause the accident but still fled the scene and there were serious injuries or death, this will be classified as a class three felony. In this case, you can expect to have your license revoked for five years in addition to the possibility of serving jail time. At this level of classification, you can serve anywhere from a one-year period of probation to eight and three-quarter years of time in jail.
- Defendants who did not cause the accident but have prior convictions on their driving record can expect their penalties to escalate to between three and twenty-five years of jail time depending upon their prior charges.
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Warning for Those with Multiple Charges
When a person is charged with leaving the scene of an accident, other charges, (such as a DUI), may also apply. When this occurs, sentences cannot be combined and will run consecutively. This means that if you must serve five years of jail time for your hit and run and one year for a DUI, then you will be serving six full years of sentencing.
Defenses for Leaving the Scene Charges
Many times, a driver is charged with leaving the scene when they actually experienced confusion regarding the facts of an accident. This is a common defense that includes explaining that the defendant did not realize that an accident had occurred or that they believed no actual damage had been inflicted upon the other vehicle or structure. This often happens when defendant mistakes the other driver’s signals as a simple wave and does not follow them to a safe location. Those who are facing the serious charges of leaving an accident scene after striking a pedestrian may also use this defense if they truly thought they hit roadside debris or a wild animal.
Another common defense strategy that a lawyer can use in these cases is to prove the defendant’s decision to preserve their safety. An example of this could be if the defendant attempted to move their vehicle to a safe location and lost track of the other vehicle that was involved in the accident. Alternatively, some drivers may fail to stop if they are afraid they may become the victim of a violent attack such as occurs during road rage. If it can be proved that a driver acted as a reasonable person would do given the circumstances, then the charges may be dropped or the penalties lessened.
In addition to these defense strategies, charges can be dropped if it is proved a person’s constitutional rights were not upheld at any point during the investigation. No matter what types of charges a defendant may be facing, they should always have their Miranda rights administered and should be given access to an attorney before questioning.
If you have already been charged with a hit and run in Arizona, then it is imperative that you hire a lawyer that is a Certified Criminal Law Specialist like David Michael Cantor, with experience in handling motor vehicle accident cases. You can get a free consultation by clicking here to fill out our online form or by calling us on our 24-hour a day hotline at (602) 737-2812 so you can get answers regarding your specific case today.