When are You Legally Required to Report an Accident?

Categories: Vehicle Accidents

Victim of car accident calling his lawyer.

In the state of Colorado, if you do not report an automobile accident and you leave the scene, you could be charged with a crime. A hit and run charge is one that the state takes seriously, and prosecutors will aggressively pursue these charges.

Hit and run charges vary in the state depending on the circumstances. If you are arrested for a hit and run, or you are being accused of not legally reporting an accident to law enforcement, it is important that you speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately.

The “Duty to Stop” Rule of Colorado

After any accident, the state requires that you stop your vehicle. You must remain at the scene until certain steps are completed to avoid any accusations of a hit and run. For starters, you are required to exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Then, you have an obligation to report the accident (dependent on damages) and wait until law enforcement arrives.

If law enforcement is dispatched, you cannot leave the scene until you are told to do so by law enforcement or emergency personnel.

Providing Reasonable Assistance

If someone is injured in the accident, you are also required to provide a “reasonable” amount of aid to the injured parties, which typically includes calling and reporting the injuries.

Failing to Stop

If you fail to stop your vehicle completely at the accident or render the reasonable amount of assistance required by law, you could be charged with a crime. The charge you face depends on the accident and if there are any associated injuries.

The Penalties for a Hit and Run Accident

Per CRS 42-4-1602, leaving the scene of an accident is considered a crime. Therefore, you are required to report that accident to the police and remain at the site until told to leave.

Leaving the scene is a class two misdemeanor, which not only carries up to 12 points against your driver’s license, but may involve loss of your right operate a vehicle, as well as a possible jail sentence.

Some penalties for a hit and run accident in the state include:

  • Accidents with property damage only.You will be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor which carries up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Accidents with an injury. If there is an injury and you fail to stop at the scene of the accident you could face a Class 1 misdemeanor, which includes up to 18 months in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
  • Accidents with serious bodily injury. If there are serious physical injuries and you leave the scene or fail to report the accident, you could face a Class 5 felony which includes one to three years in prison, and a fine of up to $500,000.
  • Accidents with a death. Lastly, an accident that involves a death is the most serious type of incident, and failure to report or remain at the scene can result in grave consequences. If this were to occur, you could face a Class 3 felony, which includes up to 12 years in prison, and a fine of up to $750,000.

Arrested for a Hit and Run? Speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney

A hit and run is not a minor offense. Even as a misdemeanor, you could lose up to one year of your life in jail and be unable to drive in the future. Therefore, you must speak with a criminal defense lawyer immediately.

To explore your options, schedule a free case evaluation with Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C. by calling his office at 970-704-0888, or request more information online.

Mark Rubinstein

Attorney Mark S. Rubinstein has been practicing law for more than 30 years, including 25 years in Colorado. He founded Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., in Carbondale after working for law firms in Denver and earlier in his career in San Diego. He focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense and personal injury representation, and he is well known throughout western Colorado as an effective and unwavering advocate for his clients.