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Ohio law requires drivers to stop and report every crash. Even when the incident only involves another empty car in a parking lot, you must try to contact the vehicle’s owner and share your name, address, and insurance information. If you cannot do that, you have a legal duty to contact local police and self-report the incident so they can track down the owner.
Merely causing property damage and driving off is considered a first-degree misdemeanor under Ohio law. This makes the offense punishable by up to 6 months in jail and fines as high as $1,000. A conviction or guilty plea also earns two points against the driver’s license.
Any hit-and-run accident that results in injuries, however, gets prosecuted as a fifth-degree felony. Being accused of causing a death while driving and then fleeing brings third-degree felony charges. Either charge could earn a year or longer in state prison and fines of several thousand dollars. Mandatory driver’s license suspensions and a 6-point license penalty also follow felony hit and run convictions.
Under certain circumstances, a driver suspected of causing a crash and leaving the scene can face both felony hit and run charges and felony charges for aggravated vehicular assault. Such instances arise when police also suspect the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving recklessly, or driving negligently in a construction zone.
If you find yourself facing such multiple felony charges, working with a Columbus, Ohio, hit and run attorney is essential. You need an advocate who knows the law and can fight against inconclusive evidence and unfounded accusations.
Convicting a driver for causing a hit-and-run accident requires proving that the person knew he or she had crashed and inflicted property damage or an injury. Prosecutors must also conclusively prove that your car or truck was the one involved in the wreck. These facts mean, first, that you may be able to defend yourself against a hit and run charge by proving that you thought you had run over debris in the road or did not even feel a bump when backing into another car. Second, you and your attorney can question the evidence linking your vehicle to the accident.
A third way to get excused from any criminal liability would involve having proof that you did leave a note after striking an unoccupied car. Last, if you let another person drive your car when it wrecked, you cannot be the at-fault driver. To win a conviction, a prosecutor must be able to show that you were the driver of the car or truck that left the scene of the accident.
Succeeding with any of these defenses in court can be difficult. Let a Columbus-based hit-and-run accident lawyer with Campbell Law help.
Our founder, April Campbell, has handled hundreds of traffic cases involving property damage and injuries. She understands that the urge to hold someone responsible is very strong, but she also knows that no innocent driver should ever be punished.