If you find yourself involved in a car accident in Philadelphia, you may be wondering about the legal consequences of leaving the scene. Specifically, what is the penalty for a hit and run in the City of Brotherly Love? This article aims to provide you with valuable insights into this topic, and if you’re in need of legal assistance, it’s crucial to consult with a Philadelphia car accident lawyer.
Legal Obligations After an Accident
Pennsylvania law mandates that you must stop your vehicle immediately if you’re involved in an accident. You are required to exchange information with the other parties involved. This typically includes your name, address, and vehicle registration number. For accidents involving injury, death, or significant property damage, you must immediately notify the police.
Leaving the scene without fulfilling your legal duties can result in a hit and run charge. Under Pennsylvania law, you may even be held liable for a hit-and-run charge if you were involved in the events leading to an auto accident, without being directly at fault.
Is a Hit and Run Accident a Misdemeanor or Felony in Philadelphia?
The severity of the penalty for a hit and run in Philadelphia largely depends on the circumstances of the accident. If the accident resulted in property damage only, you could face a misdemeanor charge. However, if the accident caused injury or death, the charge escalates to a felony.
If the hit and run incident resulted solely in property damage, you’re generally looking at a misdemeanor charge. Fines, points on your license, and even jail time are possible outcomes.
On the other hand, if the accident led to bodily injury or death, the charges escalate to a felony level. Felonies carry much steeper penalties, including substantial fines and extended periods of imprisonment.
Be aware that certain aggravating factors can elevate the severity of your charges. These can include prior convictions, the presence of minors in the vehicle, or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident.
Financial Penalties for a Hit and Run Accident
Financially, a hit and run conviction can be devastating.
Fines for Misdemeanors
If your hit and run is classified as a misdemeanor, you could be facing fines ranging from $2,500 to $5,000. While these amounts may seem steep, they are only the tip of the iceberg.
Fines for Felonies
Felony charges come with even more significant financial repercussions. Fines can escalate to the tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the severity of the accident and any aggravating factors.
Beyond criminal fines, you may also be liable for civil damages. Victims in a hit-and-run accident can sue for compensation for medical expenses, property damage, and even emotional distress.
Don’t overlook the long-term financial impact on your insurance premiums. A hit and run conviction is likely to cause a significant spike in your insurance rates, adding to the overall financial burden.
Court fees, legal fees, and other administrative costs can add up quickly. These are often overlooked but can be a significant part of the financial penalties you face.
Prison Time as a Hit and Run Penalty in Philadelphia
Facing a hit and run charge in Philadelphia is a serious matter, and one of the most daunting consequences is the possibility of imprisonment. Jail time can range from 90 days to seven years, contingent on the severity of the accident and whether it’s a misdemeanor or felony charge.
If your hit and run is categorized as a misdemeanor, you could still face jail time. Sentences can range from 90 days to one year, depending on various factors such as prior convictions and the circumstances of the incident.
Felony hit and run charges carry the risk of more extended periods of incarceration. You could be looking at a minimum of one year, with the possibility of up to seven years in state prison.
In some cases, alternative sentencing options like probation or community service may be available. However, these options often come with their own set of conditions and obligations.
Points on License for a Philadelphia Hit and Run
A hit and run conviction in Philadelphia doesn’t just come with immediate penalties like fines and possible imprisonment; it also has long-lasting implications for your driving record.
A hit and run conviction will result in points being added to your Pennsylvania driving record. The number of points can vary based on the severity of the incident and other contributing factors. Leaving the scene of an accident can result in 4 drivers license points minimum, even if there was only property damage.
Accumulating too many points on your license within a short period can lead to license suspension. Pennsylvania offers options for point reduction through safe driving courses. However, eligibility for these courses and their effectiveness in reducing points can vary.
The addition of points to your driving record will almost certainly lead to increased insurance premiums. In some cases, your insurance provider may even drop your coverage altogether.
Legal Assistance After a Hit and Run Accident
If you’re involved in a hit and run accident in Philadelphia, seeking legal advice is not just recommended—it’s essential. A qualified Philadelphia hit & run accident attorney can provide you with the legal guidance you need to navigate the complex landscape of Pennsylvania’s traffic laws.
The penalties for a hit and run in Philadelphia can be severe, ranging from fines to imprisonment. Therefore, it’s crucial to consult a Philadelphia car accident lawyer to understand your rights and responsibilities. Our attorneys at Munley Law are ready to help you resolve your hit-and-run case.