Seasoned Defense Attorney Handles Hit-Skip Offenses in Columbus
Staunch representation for drivers throughout Central Ohio
If you are in an auto accident that injures a person or damages property anywhere in Ohio, you are required to stop and take whatever steps are appropriate under the circumstances, such as identifying yourself, rendering reasonable assistance to injured parties, and waiting for the police. If you aren’t aware you’ve hit something, or you panic and keep driving, you can be charged with failure to stop after an accident, a serious offense with serious consequences. At Luckett Law Office, we defend motorists from hit-skip charges. Drawing on more than 30 years of experience with traffic offenses, we provide determined defense services focused on delivering the best results possible.
Ohio law regarding hit-skip incidents
The Ohio Revised Code §4549.02 explains that a driver who has knowledge of an accident must immediately stop at the scene. The driver must remain until he has given his name and address to:
- The operator of the other vehicle
- Anyone injured in the accident
- The police officer at the scene
If an injured person is unable to comprehend, the driver must notify the nearest police authority about the accident and remain at the scene at least until police arrive. If the accident involves an unoccupied vehicle, the driver must “securely attach” the information in writing to the vehicle.
O.R.C. §4549.03 governs accidents that damage real property or personal property attached to real property. Here, the driver is required to stop and “take reasonable steps to notify the owner.” If the driver cannot locate the owner, he has up to 24 hours to report the accident to the proper police authority. A driver who violates O.R.C. §4549.03 is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor.
Penalties for failure to stop after an accident in Ohio
A driver who violates O.R.C. §4549.02 is guilty of failure to stop. Penalties depend on the severity of the accident as follows:
- Property damage only or minor injury collision — Misdemeanor of the first degree
- Collision causing “serious physical harm” to a person — Felony of the fifth degree
- If the driver knew there was “serious physical harm” — Felony of the fourth degree
- Collision resulting in death — Felony of the third degree
- If the driver knew the collision had resulted in death — Felony of the second degree
All these scenarios result in a license suspension for at least six months.
Potential defenses for a hit-skip
Because the law requires knowledge of the accident in order for a crime to have occurred, the driver who doesn’t know he was in an accident has a defense, at least in theory. The court must believe that under the circumstances a reasonable person might not have realized that an accident occurred. The more extensive the damage to the driver’s vehicle, the less likely the court is to believe this defense. Other possible defenses are that you weren’t the person driving the car or your car was not the one involved in the accident.
A knowledgeable traffic offenses attorney can help you present a defense by raising supportive facts that lend credibility to your version of events. But even if important facts are against you, an attorney can often help a defendant negotiate reduced charges and lenient sentencing.
Contact an experienced Columbus attorney to fight hit-skip charges
A hit-skip charge in Ohio can carry serious consequences, including a lengthy prison sentence. Luckett Law Office capably defends drivers throughout Central Ohio from serious charges including hit-skip misdemeanors and felonies. Our office is conveniently located at 24 North High Street, just one block away from the Ohio Statehouse in the heart of downtown Columbus. To schedule a free consultation, call 614-721-2949 or contact our office online.