The law in North Carolina is quite clear. Any driver involved in a collision that they think may have injured another person or caused property damage must stop. Not only do they need to check on the other person to make sure that they are okay, but they likely also need to notify law enforcement and file a police report.
Most people follow these rules after major motor vehicle collisions. Unfortunately, some people do not stop and report collisions, leaving the police to search for the driver involved. Officers may have shown up at your house and accused you of causing a recent crash based on the make and color of your vehicle, as well as some old damage from a parking lot collision years ago.
Now you may face charges and are at risk of serious penalties. What are the risks in hit-and-run cases?
The criminal penalties depend on the situation
There are actually two separate sets of rules for hit-and-run crashes depending on the severity of the collision. If someone fails to stop at the scene of a crash involving property damage, they face misdemeanor charges. The penalties may include up to 120 days in jail and fines.
If someone injures another person and does not stop to report the crash, they could face between four and 25 months in jail and the loss of their driver’s license. If the collision caused serious bodily injury or death, the penalties increased to between 10 and 41 months in jail in addition to the fines and driver’s license suspension.
How do you fight back?
For the state to convict you of a hit-and-run offense, they need to show that a reasonable person would have known that there was property damage or an injury and that they needed to stop their vehicle. They also need to prove you were involved in the wreck.
You could potentially use dash cam footage to prove that you noticed nothing inside your vehicle. On the other hand, you could produce old collision reports to prove that the damage to your vehicle occurred years ago. Different defense strategies could help you avoid the worst possible penalties. Alibis, statements from your mechanic and even financial records could help you defend against claims you fled the scene of a collision.