Garfield NJ Leaving the Scene of an Accident Defense Lawyers
A charge for leaving the scene of an accident, often thought of as a “hit and run,” is one of the most serious traffic offenses a person can face. In fact, a charge for leaving the scene of an accident in New Jersey may also carry criminal penalties, depending on the circumstances and facts of the case. Whether you panicked and drove off following a hit and run, you lost control of your vehicle and struck a parked car, or you swerved into the other lane and collided with another car while making a late-night drive home, the consequences of fleeing the scene afterwards could be catastrophic. The reality is that law enforcement takes these types of offenses very seriously, and they will often go to great lengths to solve these cases and identify the vehicle and the motorist who left the scene. Additionally, prosecutors and judges are more likely to come down hard on defendants who failed to take immediate responsibility for causing an accident.
At the Tormey Law Firm in Bergen County, New Jersey, our seasoned criminal defense and drunk driving (DWI) attorneys have years of experience representing clients charged with criminal and traffic offenses, including driving with a suspended license, driving without insurance, and reckless driving throughout New Jersey, including in Mahwah, Hackensack, and Central Bergen Municipal Court. With offices conveniently located in the center of Hackensack’s criminal justice complex, Mr. Tormey and his fellow attorneys appear in courts throughout Bergen County on a daily basis, employing their specifically-formulated defense strategies to achieve the most desirable outcomes for their clients. To speak with one of these talented defense lawyers free of charge, contact the Hackensack, New Jersey offices of The Tormey Law Firm at (201)-330-4979. Initial consultations are always provided at no cost and we are always available to answers your questions.
What Happens When You Leave the Scene of an Accident?
The law in New Jersey is very clear on this point: if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, you must remain at the scene and, at a minimum, exchange information with the other motorist. This includes license, registration, and insurance information, as well as any contact information that might be needed later. If you struck a parked car or any other type of unattended vehicle, you must make a reasonable attempt to locate the other vehicle’s owner so that you can exchange information. If you are unable to find the other person, you should leave a note with your information on the damaged car. Anyone who is involved in an automobile accident in NJ and fails to remain at the scene to exchange information can be charged with leaving the scene of an accident, which is a very serious offense that in some cases can result in jail time.
Basically, if you are charged with a traffic offense for leaving the scene of an accident in New Jersey, you will be issued a traffic ticket. Although this is a special kind of traffic ticket that could technically result in a jail sentence, you might not be required to serve any time in jail if you are convicted or if you plead guilty. As stipulated by N.J.S.A. 39:4-129 of the NJ traffic code, a person can be charged with a traffic offense for leaving the scene of an accident if the accident only caused property damage or only resulted in minor injuries to the other motorist or to any passengers in either vehicle. More serious offenses under this statute involve accidents that cause personal injury or death and carry 180 days in jail.
If you receive a ticket for leaving the scene, your case will be classified as a traffic matter, and it will be handled in the municipal court located in the city or town where the traffic offense allegedly occurred. Although this is a traffic matter, it is very important that you show up for your scheduled court date because failure to appear could result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident NJ Motor Vehicle Violation 39:4-129
Leaving the scene of an accident is often charged as a motor vehicle violation in New Jersey. The traffic offense of leaving an accident scene is governed by N.J.S.A. 39:4-129, which provides:
§ 39:4-129. Action in case of accident
(a) The driver of any vehicle, knowingly involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close thereto as possible but shall then forthwith return to and in every event shall remain at the scene until he has fulfilled the requirements of subsection (c) of this section. Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary. Any person who shall violate this subsection shall be fined not less than $ 2,500 nor more than $ 5,000, or be imprisoned for a period of 180 days, or both. The term of imprisonment required by this subsection shall be imposed only if the accident resulted in death or injury to a person other than the driver convicted of violating this section.
In addition, any person convicted under this subsection shall forfeit his right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State for a period of one year from the date of his conviction for the first offense and for a subsequent offense shall thereafter permanently forfeit his right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State.
(b) The driver of any vehicle knowingly involved in an accident resulting only in damage to a vehicle, including his own vehicle, or other property which is attended by any person shall immediately stop his vehicle at the scene of such accident or as close thereto as possible, but shall then forthwith return to and in every event shall remain at the scene of such accident until he has fulfilled the requirements of subsection (c) of this section. Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary. Any person who shall violate this subsection shall be fined not less than $ 200 nor more than $ 400, or be imprisoned for a period of not more than 30 days, or both, for the first offense, and for a subsequent offense, shall be fined not less than $ 400 nor more than $ 600, or be imprisoned for a period of not less than 30 days nor more than 90 days or both.
In addition, a person who violates this subsection shall, for a first offense, forfeit the right to operate a motor vehicle in this State for a period of six months from the date of conviction, and for a period of one year from the date of conviction for any subsequent offense.
(c) The driver of any vehicle knowingly involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person or damage to any vehicle or property shall give his name and address and exhibit his operator’s license and registration certificate of his vehicle to the person injured or whose vehicle or property was damaged and to any police officer or witness of the accident, and to the driver or occupants of the vehicle collided with and render to a person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including the carrying of that person to a hospital or a physician for medical or surgical treatment, if it is apparent that the treatment is necessary or is requested by the injured person.
In the event that none of the persons specified are in condition to receive the information to which they otherwise would be entitled under this subsection, and no police officer is present, the driver of any vehicle involved in such accident after fulfilling all other requirements of subsections (a) and (b) of this section, insofar as possible on his part to be performed, shall forthwith report such accident to the nearest office of the local police department or of the county police of the county or of the State Police and submit thereto the information specified in this subsection.
(d) The driver of any vehicle which knowingly collides with or is knowingly involved in an accident with any vehicle or other property which is unattended resulting in any damage to such vehicle or other property shall immediately stop and shall then and there locate and notify the operator or owner of such vehicle or other property of the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle striking the unattended vehicle or other property or, in the event an unattended vehicle is struck and the driver or owner thereof cannot be immediately located, shall attach securely in a conspicuous place in or on such vehicle a written notice giving the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle doing the striking or, in the event other property is struck and the owner thereof cannot be immediately located, shall notify the nearest office of the local police department or of the county police of the county or of the State Police and in addition shall notify the owner of the property as soon as the owner can be identified and located. Any person who violates this subsection shall be punished as provided in subsection (b) of this section.
(e) There shall be a permissive inference that the driver of any motor vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person or damage in the amount of $ 250.00 or more to any vehicle or property has knowledge that he was involved in such accident.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident Traffic Violations in New Jersey
As the above statute details, the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident, in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-129, are contingent upon a variety of circumstances, including whether there was only damage to the vehicle or if someone was injured or killed as a result of the accident. Leaving the scene of an accident penalties include:
Damage only: First offense
- Fine: $200.00 to $400.00
- Jail: Up to 30 days
- License Suspension: Six (6) months
- License Points: Two (2) motor vehicle points
Damage only: Second offense
- Fine: $400.00 to $600.00
- Jail: 30 to 90 days
- License Suspension: One (1) year
- License Points: Two (2) motor vehicle points
Personal Injury or Death
- Fine: $2,500.00 to $5,000.00
- Jail: 180 days in the county jail (if death or injury to another person)
- License Suspension: First offense, one-year license suspension; Second offense, permanent license forfeiture
- License Points: Eight (8) motor vehicle points
Call Hackensack NJ Leaving the Scene of an Accident Attorneys Now for a Free Consultation
For additional information and a free consultation about your leaving the scene of an accident charges, please contact us anytime at (201)-330-4979, or send us a message. Our Hackensack office is conveniently located in the heart of Bergen County, just steps from the Hackensack Municipal Court and Bergen County Superior Court. One of our criminal defense attorneys will be happy to discuss your case over the phone or to schedule an appointment to meet with you in person.