What Is A Hit-And-Run Charge?

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Whether you are the victim of a hit-and-run or the perpetrator of the crime, it’s helpful to know what this label means. It’s a deadly incident that could result in detrimental costs for the victim and extensive jail time for the perpetrator.

A hit-and-run charge occurs when an individual strikes another occupied vehicle and drives away. Penalties for the wrongdoer might be criminal, administrative, or civil, depending on the state and nature of the crime.

If you’re interested in learning more about a hit-and-run charge, read on. It’s helpful to be aware of laws surrounding these accidents and what you or a perpetrator could be subject to if you are involved in a hit-and-run.

What Is A Hit-And-Run Charge?

A hit-and-run typically refers to an instance where a person in a vehicle hits another person inside a car and then leaves the scene. It also refers to situations where a person hits a pedestrian, object, or another form of property and flees the scene without leaving any helpful insurance information.

These traffic violations are serious. In some cases, the consequences for the driver will be more extreme than a DUI charge, which can land the driver some serious time behind bars. It’s a charge that will follow you on your record for a while if you leave and fail to report your crime to the proper authorities.

Many things will impact the punishment for the crime of a hit-and-run. A few of the most significant include the state you are in, the intention of your actions, any level of intoxication, and whether or not people were injured or killed.

What Happens When You Hit-And-Run?

When you hit-and-run, the hunt begins right away. You have ten days to legally state your crime to the proper authorities, but the police may find your information and contact you before that day if someone wrote down your license after the accident. From there, you will face criminal charges for your actions.

The resulting legal proceedings will vary based on what happened during the hit-and-run. Did you kill a person? Crash into a fence? Tap an unoccupied car? How much money does the victim need to get their life back on track?

Drivers who perform a hit-and-run are responsible for their actions, especially if it was intentional and led to severe harm to another person or their property. Let’s talk about the possible consequences of this crime next.

Can You Go To Jail For A Hit-And-Run?

Less severe hit-and-run cases typically result in fines, but those with more severe outcomes can lead to jail time for the person behind the wheel. In most states, a hit-and-run will end up as a misdemeanor or felony. If it’s a felony, there is a high chance you will serve time behind bars.

A hit-and-run is a misdemeanor if the incident occurs and there are no injuries involved. That might mean hitting a car where there is no person inside, or running into personal property and fleeing without living people or things in the area. Typically, these sentences result in low jail time or fines.

A hit-and-run is a felony if serious injuries or death arise during the case. These cases will result in much higher fines and a decade behind bars. You could pay up to $20,000 if the case falls under the felony category.

Types Of Hit-And-Run Cases

There is no one-size-fits-all for a hit-and-run case. Although there is a specific umbrella name for charges involving a perpetrator hitting something and running away, there are categories within the charge. Your punishment will vary based on severity, where it took place, and other factors.

Let’s dive deeper into each type of hit-and-run case. There are two general classifications for a hit-and-run, and the punishments and specific instances branch off from there. The more you know about the types of hit-and-run charges, the easier it will be to determine what repercussions you might receive.


The first type of hit-and-run is a non-injury, discussed earlier as a variety that typically results in a misdemeanor. In this type of incident, there are either no living things involved in the accident or anyone in the car or general area of the hit-and-run were not injured during the endeavor.

Common non-injury misdemeanors include incidents where you hit:

  • A parked car without a person inside
  • A car someone else was driving
  • A mailbox, fence, or additional private property

There is no harm done in these cases to a human.

Although there are no critical injuries, the person who owns the property hit by your vehicle still needs compensation to handle the damages. If you run away, you will likely owe them more than you would if you remained behind to offer insurance information or speak with them before proceeding.


The second type of hit-and-run is an injury, discussed earlier as a variety that typically results in a felony. In this incident type, a person or multiple people are injured, along with potential property damage. In the worst case, there could be a death or multiple deaths.

Common injury felonies include incidents where you hit the following:

  • A pedestrian on the sidewalk or a bike
  • A person in their car, driving or sitting
  • A group of people

These can have detrimental results for you and the victims.

Those who come out of the hit-and-run incident will likely require significant compensation for their trauma, physical and mental. You may experience probation, serious time in prison, and even a revocation of your license, depending on the laws in your state.

What Is The Penalty For Leaving The Scene Of An Accident?

No accident is without consequences, and there are punishments for a hit-and-run. Whether you’ve been involved in this offense or want to educate yourself on the subject, it’s helpful to know what you could face if you are in an injury or non-injury hit-and-run incident in your lifetime. What happens if you depart from the scene of the crime?

Let’s dive deeper into the potential penalties for leaving the scene of an accident. Whether you bump into a car or run over a person on their bike, the punishment is always more damaging if you run away from the incident. Knowing what could occur should be enough to keep you at the scene if you are behind the wheel in a hit-and-run.

Criminal Penalties

First, there are possible criminal penalties that could occur. These vary from state to state and influence whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony for the crime. Some locations are more severe than others for those accused of this action.

A few examples of criminal penalties include the following:

  • A $10,000 fine
  • 10 years in prison
  • A year in jail

The penalty will go up depending on the nature of the crime.

Criminal penalties are the punishment you will receive from the law for running from a scene, whether you hit a person with your car or run into a personal property like a mailbox. However, criminal penalties aren’t the only thing you’ll face as you experience judgment for the case.

Administrative Penalties

States typically have administrative penalties that apply to your driver’s license. If you’re irresponsible enough to be involved in a hit-and-run, they will act to ensure there are some restrictions on what you can do as the person behind the wheel. The state DMV adds these regulations once things have settled.

Examples of administrative penalties include the following:

  • Automatic suspension or revocation of your license
  • Possible lifetime revocation of license if there is death or injury

These will disappear in time if you keep a clear record unless you receive a lifetime ban.

Hit-and-runs typically won’t result in a lifetime ban unless there is a death or serious injury to the victim. However, it might be necessary for a temporary revocation if the court deems you need to be off the road until you are decided to be responsible once again.

Civil Penalties

Finally, there are civil penalties you will face after a hit-and-run. These occur when the individual sues you for damages suffered or other forms of loss they have experienced. Civil penalties will likely happen even if you didn’t run - the person harmed deserves coverage for their injuries.

Civil penalties include the following:

  • Punitive damages, awarded by the court to the injured person with the intent to punish the defendant’s dangerous behavior
  • Treble damages, awarded and often tripled where the statute allows it to occur

These are often not covered by car insurance policies and will come out of your account.

Civil penalties come on top of criminal and administrative penalties. If you perform a hit-and-run, there are layers upon layers of potential punishment you or your perpetrator will face.

How Many Points Is A Hit-And-Run?

The number of points placed on your license will vary by state and what you are convicted of when your case goes to court. In the simplest case, you will be convicted of Failure to Report an Accident. If this is your conviction, you will receive 3-5 points on your license. However, it’s likely something else will happen.

Most individuals who are responsible for a hit-and-run will have their license suspended or revoked. In some cases, you could lose your ability to drive legally forever. These punishments are much worse than points on your license and could forever impact the way you move around your world.

If you are in an accident, it’s critical to take responsibility. Both the individual behind the wheel and the victim have roles to play in an accident.

Driver Responsibilities In An Accident

It’s tough to be in an accident, even if you’re the person in the driver’s seat. You might be rattled and feel tempted to get as far away from the area as you can. However, that’s rarely the right action. Both driver and victim have some responsibilities they should carry out as soon as possible for the best long-term results.

If you hit someone, instead of running away you should do the following as soon as you can:

  • Call 911 and law enforcement right away
  • Check for injuries on yourself and the other person
  • Get contact and insurance information
  • Remain at the scene until further action can be taken

These will minimize punishments and potentially save lives.

If you’re the victim in a hit-and-run, you should do the following as soon as you gather yourself:

  • Call 911 or law enforcement right away
  • Check yourself for injuries
  • Take pictures and gather evidence from the scene
  • Head to a hospital
  • Get a lawyer and address the situation in court

These will ensure the police are on the case and you are safe.

If you are the driver of the car that hit someone or something, the best thing you can do is remain at the scene of the accident. Punishments will be more severe for those who choose to flee. If you’re the victim, take care of yourself and get to a hospital as soon as possible if you are injured.

How Long Will It Take the Police To Find You?

If you enact a hit-and-run, it won’t take the police long to find you if they have enough information from witnesses, cameras, and the victim themself. If they have your license plate number, they could locate and contact you within hours or days of the accident. From there, legal action will take place to compensate the victim.

However, it will take longer for the police to find and contact you if they don’t have that information. The investigation could take weeks or months to finish.

It isn’t worth the risk of running from the scene of a hit-and-run. To avoid severe penalties for the accident, report it to the police and check on any victims involved while providing them with insurance and contact information as needed.

Reference Legal Explanations

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  • "What Is A Hit-And-Run Charge?". Legal Explanations. Accessed on June 14, 2024. https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-a-hit-and-run-charge/.

  • "What Is A Hit-And-Run Charge?". Legal Explanations, https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-a-hit-and-run-charge/. Accessed 14 June, 2024

  • What Is A Hit-And-Run Charge?. Legal Explanations. Retrieved from https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-a-hit-and-run-charge/.