When most of us think of committing a crime, we think about possessing or selling illegal drugs, stealing someone else’s car, committing fraud, or beating someone up. It’s common to think that a crime is something sinister – an intentional wrongdoing. Not all crimes contain the element of “ill intent.” Hit and run is one of those offenses.
Whenever you drive in Texas, whether you’re licensed here or in another state, you have certain duties if you’re involved in an accident. It doesn’t matter if you hit a parked car, get into a minor fender bender in a parking lot, or get into a head-on collision, you have responsibilities that are outlined under the Texas Transportation Code, even if the accident was the other driver’s fault.
Your Duties in an Accident
Your duties in an accident are covered under Sections 550.021, 550.022, and 550.023 of the Texas Transportation Code. If you’re in an accident involving personal injury or death, you are legally required to:
- STOP your vehicle immediately at the accident scene or very close to the scene.
- Immediately see if anyone was hurt and if so, determine if that person needs medical attention.
- Ensure any injured parties receive the medical attention they need by calling 911 or finding them a way to a hospital.
- Exchange your driver license number, vehicle registration number, insurance information, and phone number with the other parties of the accident.
If someone is injured or killed in an accident you’re involved in and you fail to follow the above steps, and instead you flee the scene, you would be guilty of a criminal offense. The penalties depend on whether someone was seriously injured or killed.
An offense under Sec. 550.21 is a felony of the second degree if someone was killed. It is a felony of the third degree if someone sustained serious bodily injury in the crash. If the accident involved a minor injury and you fled the scene, you’d face one to five years behind bars, or a fine not to exceed $5,000, or a fine and imprisonment.
If you flee the scene of an accident involving property damage only, it would be a Class B or C misdemeanor depending on the total damage to all vehicles involved. A violation of Sect. 550.022 is a Class B misdemeanor if the damage to all vehicles exceeds $200.