In every situation that there is an accident, a driver is expected to stop and exchange information with the driver of the other car. This is also true when the car or property which is damaged is unattended. The Hit and Run statute, also known as the Leaving the Scene of an Accident statute, is codified as Virginia Code Section 46.2-894.
Hit & Run: More common than you might think.
Throughout my career as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney, I can say without hesitation that Hit and Run is very common. When attended property is involved, the driver of the other car is present, usually in the car or near the property. When Hit and Run involves unattended property (the most common form of Hit and Run), the driver or owner is not present. While Hit and Run can happen anywhere, I’ve seen more Hit and Run cases in parking lots.
In my career, I’ve noticed that many people charged with Hit and Run have clean driving record and no history of accidents. While I do not know why a driver leaves the scene of an accident, I would surmise that it’s simply due inexperience and a rush emotion at the time that can have a tendency to cloud a driver’s judgment. This is especially true in parking lot cases where the accident is so minor that the driver is unsure of what to do.
Penalties for Hit and Run in Fairfax / Northern Virginia
Hit and Run, or Leaving the Scene of an accident can be a Class 5 Felony or a Class 1 Misdemeanor. What controls is the nature of the accident.
Felony: If the accident results in injury to or death of any person, or the amount of damage is $1,000 or greater, then it will be charged as a Class 5 Felony. It is a 6-point DMV violation. Class 5 Felonies are punishable by: a prison term of 1-10 years, confinement in jail for not more than 12-months and a fine of up to $2500.
If there is not injury or death, and the property damage is less than $1,000, it will be charged as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. It is a 4-point DMV violation. Class 1 Misdemeanors are punishable by: up to 12 month in jail and a fine of up to $2500.
I got a hit & run charge in Northern Virginia, can I lose my license?
Yes. According to Virginia Code Section 46.2-901, if there were no injuries in the accident, but the property damage exceeded $500, the court may take the driver’s license for up to 6-months.