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What Are The Penalties For Leaving The Scene Of An Accident In Michigan?

What are the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident in michigan

Driving is a privilege in the State of Michigan that requires satisfying certain responsibilities. For example, all drivers who are involved in a traffic collision must fulfill specific obligations before they can leave the scene. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in criminal penalties and license sanctions.

MCL 257.619 requires “[t]he driver of a vehicle who knows or who has reason to believe that he or she has been involved in an accident with an individual or with another vehicle that is operated or attended by another individual shall do all of the following:”

  • “(a) Give his or her name and address, and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is operating, including the name and address of the owner, to a police officer, the individual struck, or the driver or occupants of the vehicle with which he or she has collided.”
  • “(b) Exhibit his or her operator’s or chauffeur’s license to a police officer, individual struck, or the driver or occupants of the vehicle with which he or she has collided.”
  • “(c) Render to any individual injured in the accident reasonable assistance in securing medical aid or arrange for or provide transportation to any injured individual.”

Additionally, “[t]he driver of any vehicle which collides upon either public or private property with any vehicle which is attended or unattended shall immediately stop and shall then and there either locate and notify the operator or owner of such vehicle of the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle striking the vehicle or, if such owner cannot be located, shall forthwith report it to the nearest or most convenient police officer.” MCL 257.620.

LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT DAMAGING ATTENDED VEHICLE

An individual is guilty of leaving the scene of an accident causing damage to an attended vehicle, contrary to MCL 257.618 if the prosecutor can prove ALL of the following beyond a reasonable doubt (Model Criminal Jury Instruction 15.14):

  • First, the individual was the driver of a motor vehicle.
  • Second, the motor vehicle driven by the individual was involved in an accident.
  • Third, the individual knew or had reason to know that he or she had been involved in an accident on a public road or any property open to travel by the public.
  • Fourth, that the accident resulted in damage to a vehicle driver attended by another.
  • Fifth, that the defendant failed to immediately stop his or her motor vehicle at the scene of the accident in order to render assistance and give information required by law, or to immediately report the accident to the nearest or most convenient police agency or officer if there was a reasonable and honest belief that remaining at the scene would result in further harm. The requirement that the driver “immediately stop” means that the driver must stop and park the car as soon as practicable and reasonable under the circumstances and without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.

The penalty for leaving the scene of an accident damaging an attended vehicle is a misdemeanor punishable by:

  • A fine up to $100.00 or up to 90 days in jail, or both;
  • Six points added to Michigan driving record;
  • No licensing sanctions.

LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT CAUSING PERSONAL INJURY

An individual is guilty of leaving the scene of an accident causing personal injury, contrary to MCL 257.617a if the prosecutor can prove ALL of the following beyond a reasonable doubt (Model Criminal Jury Instruction 15.14):

  • First, the individual was the driver of a motor vehicle.
  • Second, the motor vehicle driven by the individual was involved in an accident.
  • Third, the individual knew or had reason to know that he or she had been involved in an accident on a public road or any property open to travel by the public.
  • Fourth, that the accident resulted in personal injury to any person.
  • Fifth, that the defendant failed to immediately stop his or her motor vehicle at the scene of the accident in order to render assistance and give information required by law, or to immediately report the accident to the nearest or most convenient police agency or officer if there was a reasonable and honest belief that remaining at the scene would result in further harm. The requirement that the driver “immediately stop” means that the driver must stop and park the car as soon as practicable and reasonable under the circumstances and without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.

The penalty for leaving the scene of an accident causing personal injury is a misdemeanor punishable by:

  • A fine up to $1,000.00 or up to 1 year in jail, or both;
  • Six points added to Michigan driving record;
  • Operator’s License is suspended for 90 days.

LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT CAUSING SERIOUS IMPAIRMENT OF A BODY FUNCTION

An individual is guilty of leaving the scene of an accident causing serious impairment of a body function, contrary to MCL 257.617 if the prosecutor can prove ALL of the following beyond a reasonable doubt (Model Criminal Jury Instruction 15.14):

  • First, the individual was the driver of a motor vehicle.
  • Second, the motor vehicle driven by the individual was involved in an accident.
  • Third, the individual knew or had reason to know that he or she had been involved in an accident on a public road or any property open to travel by the public.
  • Fourth, that the accident resulted in “serious impairment of a body function”, defined by MCL 257.58c to include, but not limited to, one or more of the following:
  1. Loss of a limb or loss of use of a limb.
  2. Loss of a foot, hand, finger, or thumb or loss of use of a foot, hand, finger, or thumb.
  3. Loss of an eye or ear or loss of use of an eye or ear.
  4. Loss or substantial impairment of a bodily function.
  5. Serious visible disfigurement.
  6. A comatose state that lasts for more than 3 days.
  7. Measurable brain or mental impairment.
  8. A skull fracture or other serious bone fracture.
  9. Subdural hemorrhage or subdural hematoma.
  10. Loss of an organ.
  • Fifth, that the defendant failed to immediately stop his or her motor vehicle at the scene of the accident in order to render assistance and give information required by law, or to immediately report the accident to the nearest or most convenient police agency or officer if there was a reasonable and honest belief that remaining at the scene would result in further harm. The requirement that the driver “immediately stop” means that the driver must stop and park the car as soon as practicable and reasonable under the circumstances and without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.

The penalty for leaving the scene of an accident causing serious impairment of a body function is a felony punishable by:

  • A fine up to $5,000.00 or up to 5 years in state prison, or both;
  • Six points added to Michigan driving record;
  • Operator’s License is suspended for one year.

LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT CAUSING DEATH

An individual is guilty of leaving the scene of an accident causing death, contrary to MCL 257.617 if the prosecutor can prove ALL of the following beyond a reasonable doubt (Model Criminal Jury Instruction 15.14a):

  • First, the individual was the driver of a motor vehicle.
  • Second, the motor vehicle driven by the individual was involved in an accident.
  • Third, the individual knew or had reason to know that he or she was involved in an accident on a public road or any property open to travel by the public.
  • Fourth, that the accident resulted in death.
  • Fifth, that the individual caused the accident.
  • Sixth, that the individual failed to immediately stop his or her motor vehicle at the scene of the accident in order to render assistance and give information required by law. The requirement that the driver “immediately stop” means that the driver must stop and park the car as soon as practicable and reasonable under the circumstances and without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.

The penalty for leaving the scene of an accident causing death is a felony punishable by:

  • A fine up to $10,000.00 or up to 15 years in state prison, or both;
  • Six points added to Michigan driving record;
  • Operator’s License is revoked.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

The Michigan Court of Appeals concluded that being “involved in an accident” means being implicated or connected with the accident in a logical and substantial manner. People v Oliver, 242 Mich App 92; 617 NW2d 721 (2000). This means that the driver doesn’t actually have to make contact or strike the other vehicle, but can be involved by causing another object to strike that vehicle or creating the accident by conduct that caused the other car to take evasive action.

The prosecutor may also charge (or offer a plea-bargain to) a driver leaving the scene of an accident with one of the following less serious offenses:

  • A driver who fails to provide required information to the other driver or the police officer after an accident or failure to render to any individual injured in the accident reasonable assistance in securing medical aid or arrange for or provide transportation to any injured individual is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $100.00 or up to 90 days in jail (no points or license sanctions). MCL 257.619.
  • A driver who fails to report an accident causing only damage to fixtures on a highway is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $100.00 or up to 90 days in jail (no points or license sanctions). MCL 257.621.
  • A driver who fails to report an accident to the nearest police officer that injures or kills any person or damages property to an apparent extent totaling $1,000.00 or more is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $100.00 or up to 90 days in jail (no points or license sanctions). MCL 257.622.

Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious offense that is not taken lightly by the prosecutor and the courts. In addition to the license sanctions, there is the very real possibility of incarceration depending on the circumstances. When faced with such allegations, there is no greater need for a criminal defense attorney that will protect your rights. If you or a loved one is faced with a charge of leaving the scene of an accident or any other traffic offense, do not hesitate to contract the experienced lawyers at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC to start your best defense today.

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