A hit and run is a serious crime. A hit and run is defined as being involved in a collision (with another car, pedestrian, or property) and knowingly leaving the scene without stopping to give your name, license number, and other information to someone at the scene. Hit and runs include parking lot collisions. If you sideswipe a car in a parking lot and do not leave a note with your contact information on the windshield, it’s still an H&R.
If you are involved in an accident, Arkansas law states that you have three responsibilities:
1. Give your name, address, and registration number of the car you are driving.
2. Give aid to any person injured in the accident and call for medical help if necessary.
3. Remain at the scene for a reasonable amount of time—the state of Arkansas defines a “reasonable” amount of time is at least 30 minutes—to speak with police.
To learn more, look at Arkansas Code Title 27, Chapter 53.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Most of the time, someone who commits H&R is the at-fault driver in the accident, but anyone driving a car involved in the accident who leaves the scene can be charged with hit and run. Arkansas law states that anyone who leaves the scene of an accident where a person has been injured or killed may be charged with a Class D felony. Class D felonies can be punishable by up to six years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Your license will also be revoked. Penalties are increased if the person fleeing the collision was intoxicated, uninsured, driving a stolen or borrowed vehicle, driving without a license, or have outstanding warrants. Penalties are less severe for accidents where only property damage is involved, but those still include a fine and revocation of your drivers’ license.
One may defend themselves by providing proof that they fled the scene to seek help. It’s plausible you left to go to a higher point to get a cell phone signal, for example. However, juries will be unlikely to believe someone who has no evidence of a phone call to 911 or an attempt to contact someone.
Finding a Hit and Run Driver
It’s difficult for police to find the driver of a hit and run without evidence. It’s crucial to know what details to look for immediately after an accident. Look for the car license number, make, and color of the other car. If the driver gets out of the car, try to remember as much as you can. It’s understandable you may not be able to remember many details if you’ve been injured or are in shock. You could ask witnesses to describe what they say or ask nearby businesses if they have video surveillance. Witness statements and video footage can be compelling evidence in identifying a hit and run driver.
Arkansas law presumes that a driver who leaves the accident scene is uninsured. It’s wise to have uninsured motorist coverage on your insurance policy, which covers damage from a hit and run.
What to Do if You’ve Been Involved in a Hit and Run in Arkansas
If you have been involved in a hit and run, do not wait for law enforcement to contact you. Call our Fayetteville office today. Our experienced attorneys provide free consultations in which we can discuss the legal options that are available to you. Call our office today at (479) 255-2567 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.