Reveal Law

The Legal Consequences of Leaving an Accident: Know Your Rights

Leaving the Scene of an Accident: Understanding the Consequences and Potential DefensesImagine this scenario: you’re driving down the street, minding your own business, when suddenly, you accidentally hit another car. Panic sets in, and you’re unsure of what to do.

Do you stop and face the consequences or do you flee, hoping to avoid any trouble? The answer is clear – leaving the scene of an accident is not only morally wrong but can also result in serious legal repercussions.

In this article, we will explore the topic of leaving the scene of an accident, digging into the Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 28-661 and the potential defenses that can be used. So buckle up and let’s dive right in.

1) Leaving the Scene of an Accident: What You Need to Know

1.1 Understanding ARS 28-661: Leaving the Scene of an Accident and Felony Hit and Run

Leaving the scene of an accident, also known as a hit and run, is a serious offense in Arizona. According to ARS 28-661, if a person is involved in an accident that results in injury or death and intentionally leaves the scene without stopping to provide necessary information and assistance, they can be charged with a felony.

This means that the consequences can be incredibly severe. Leaving the scene of an accident can result in up to 2.5 years in prison, fines of up to $150,000, and a permanent criminal record.

Moreover, it’s important to note that leaving the scene of an accident isn’t limited to hitting another vehicle; it can also apply to accidents involving property damage or collisions with pedestrians or cyclists. 1.2 Understanding the Duty to Stop and Provide Information and Assistance

When involved in an accident, it is crucial to remember your legal obligations.

In Arizona, the duty to stop and provide information and assistance is fundamental. This means that if you are involved in an accident, your first instinct should be to stop your vehicle in a safe manner and exchange the following information with the parties involved: name, address, and vehicle registration number.

Additionally, you are required to provide reasonable assistance to any injured individuals, which may include calling for medical help or providing aid in any way you can.

2) Potential Defenses to ARS 28-661 Charges

2.1 No Injury or Death: Exploring a Possible Defense

One potential defense against an ARS 28-661 charge is the absence of injury or death resulting from the accident. If you can prove that the accident did not cause harm to any individuals involved, it may be possible to have the charges reduced or dropped altogether.

However, keep in mind that even if no one was injured, it is still your legal obligation to stop and provide necessary information and assistance at the scene. 2.2 Police Arrested the Wrong Person: A Common Defense

Another defense that can be utilized is the claim that the police arrested the wrong person.

Mistakes happen, and there have been cases where individuals who were not actually involved in the accident have been mistakenly charged. In such situations, it is important to gather evidence that supports your alibi or proves that someone else was responsible for the accident.

2.3 Necessity Defense: When There Were No Other Viable Options

While rare, the necessity defense can be raised in certain circumstances. This defense asserts that leaving the scene of an accident was necessary to avoid a greater harm or danger.

For example, if staying at the scene of the accident would have put you in immediate danger, such as in the case of an approaching train or impending explosion, you may be able to argue that leaving was the only viable option.


Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious offense that can have long-lasting consequences. Understanding your legal obligations and potential defenses is crucial in navigating this complex area of the law.

Remember, if you are involved in an accident, stop, provide information and assistance, and be prepared to face the consequences if you fail to fulfill your duty. Stay safe on the roads and always prioritize the well-being of yourself and others.

3) Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident: Understanding the Severity

3.1 Exploring the Classifications of Felony Offenses

Leaving the scene of an accident is a grave offense, and the penalties associated with it can vary depending on the circumstances. In Arizona, felony hit and run charges fall under different classifications, known as classes.

The severity of the punishment is primarily determined by the amount of harm caused by the accident. If the accident resulted in injury or death, it is considered a Class 3 felony.

Conviction of a Class 3 felony offense can lead to significant consequences, including imprisonment for up to seven years and fines of up to $150,000. Additionally, those convicted may face a permanent mark on their criminal record, which can have far-reaching effects on future employment opportunities and personal relationships.

In cases where the accident caused serious bodily injury, such as permanent disfigurement or organ impairment, the offense is elevated to a Class 2 felony. The penalties for a Class 2 felony include imprisonment for up to ten years and fines of up to $150,000.

For accidents involving only property damage, leaving the scene can be classified as a Class 5 felony. While the penalties for a Class 5 felony are less severe than those for injury or death cases, they still carry significant consequences, including imprisonment for up to two years and fines of up to $150,000.

3.2 Revocation of Driving Privileges: An Additional Penalty

In addition to the criminal penalties, leaving the scene of an accident can result in the revocation of your driving privileges. Under Arizona law, the Department of Transportation can suspend or revoke your driver’s license if you are convicted of a hit and run offense.

If the accident led to serious bodily injury or death, your driver’s license can be suspended for up to five years. For accidents causing only property damage, the suspension period can range from 90 days to one year.

It is crucial to note that driving with a suspended or revoked license can result in further legal trouble and compound the severity of the consequences. 4) Related Crimes: Understanding the Consequences

4.1 DUI – Driving Under the Influence (ARS 28-1381A1)

Driving under the influence (DUI) is another serious offense that often intersects with leaving the scene of an accident.

If you are found to be operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs and get involved in an accident, you may face DUI charges in addition to hit and run charges. In Arizona, DUI is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense.

The penalties can include jail time of up to six months, fines of up to $2,500, mandatory alcohol education programs, and the installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. Subsequent offenses can result in even harsher penalties, such as longer jail sentences, higher fines, and longer license suspensions.

4.2 Criminal Damage (ARS 13-1602)

Sometimes, leaving the scene of an accident isn’t the only offense committed. If during the incident, you intentionally or recklessly damage someone else’s property, you may also be charged with criminal damage under ARS 13-1602.

Criminal damage can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the value of the property damaged and other factors. For misdemeanor offenses, the penalties can include imprisonment for up to six months and fines of up to $2,500.

Felony charges can lead to much harsher consequences, including imprisonment for several years and significantly higher fines. 4.3 Disorderly Conduct (ARS 13-2904)

Another related crime that may come into play is disorderly conduct.

If, after an accident, you engage in tumultuous or offensive behavior that disturbs the peace or safety of others, you may be charged with disorderly conduct under ARS 13-2904. Disorderly conduct is typically a misdemeanor offense, carrying penalties of up to six months in jail and fines of up to $2,500.

However, if your actions involved a deadly weapon, such as a firearm, the offense can be elevated to a felony, resulting in harsher punishments. 4.4 Misdemeanor Hit and Run (ARS 28-662)

It is worth noting that there is a distinction between felony hit and run and misdemeanor hit and run offenses.

If you leave the scene of an accident that only involves property damage and fail to leave your name, address, and vehicle registration number, you may be charged with misdemeanor hit and run under ARS 28-662. While the penalties for misdemeanor hit and run are less severe than those for the felony offense, they should not be taken lightly.

Conviction for misdemeanor hit and run can result in up to 30 days in jail, fines of up to $500, and the potential revocation of your driving privileges.


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