LEAVING THE SCENE OF A DEADLY ACCIDENT
On behalf of Law Office Of Scott G. Cerbin, Esq., PLLC on Monday, December 2, 2019.
You get into a car accident. You panic. It happens so fast. Maybe there is another complication, like the fact that your license got suspended and you should never have been driving anyway. You decide to flee the scene of the crash.
This is illegal under New York law. In fact, leaving the scene of a deadly crash is a Class D felony. Leaving the scene of a crash with a serious injury is a Class E felony. You need to stay at the scene, exchange information with the other driver and talk to the authorities.
What are the penalties?
The penalties for leaving the scene of the crash do depend on the outcome. With an injury-related accident, you get a fine that runs from $1,000 to $5,000. With a fatal crash, the minimum goes up to $2,000, but the maximum fine stays at $5,000.
However, the law states that those fines are “in addition to any other penalties provided by law.” This means that things could get far more serious. Did you cause the accident? You may end up facing vehicular manslaughter charges for the death. If you had nothing to do with causing the crash and you simply ran from the scene in confusion, you could still face the fines alone, but your role determines what the penalties look like.
Why do people flee the scene?
You know that fleeing the scene of any crash is illegal. You know it’s not a good idea and it is only going to make things worse. Why did you do it?
One reason is simple: You panicked. You stopped thinking rationally. You made poor decisions.
To some degree, that’s not your fault. It’s just the way your brain is wired. Scientists have discovered that “anxiety disengages brain cells” and hampers your ability to make good choices. You literally cannot think as well when facing severe stress. Your brain is not working at its full capacity.
This is why people often express regret or even confusion after the fact. Someone may ask you why you did it, and you may say that you have no idea. You cannot comprehend the reason yourself. In retrospect, you wish you had not run, but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
Your legal options
You may know that the blame for your actions lies in brain functionality and the deactivation of brain cells, but the authorities still blame you for your part in the crash. You could find yourself facing serious charges, and you need to know what legal defense options you have.