Charges for Leaving the Scene of an Accident
If you leave the scene of an accident resulting in property damage less than $400, you are committing a Class C misdemeanor, with penalties of 30 days in jail and a fine. If that damage is more than $400, you are committing a Class C misdemeanor, and your license will be suspended.
Driving is a part of our everyday lives, especially in the south. People are in and out of cars multiple times per day, every day of the week. Because of the amount of time that people spend driving or riding in vehicles, the average person will be involved in approximately four car accidents in their lifetime. Since everyone will almost inevitably be involved in an accident, it is important to know what to do when an accident occurs -- especially if you are the driver.
What To Do When an Accident Occurs
In Tennessee, anyone involved in an accident that results in damage to another vehicle should stop their car immediately at the scene. If it is not possible to immediately stop, you must return to the scene and remain there until the police arrive and issue further instructions. It is important to note that when stopped, every effort should be made not to impede traffic. If it is possible, you should move your car and the other cars that are involved in the accident to the side of the road.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Death or Injury
If you are involved in an accident that causes injury or death, you are legally required to stop at the scene, or as close to the scene as possible. If you are unable to stop at the scene, you should return to the location where the accident took place as soon as possible. If an individual is injured, you should render aid by calling 911. It is a Class A misdemeanor to not stop or return to the scene of an accident that results in injury to another person.
Leaving the Scene & Vehicular Assault / Homicide Charges
If you know that your accident resulted in someone’s death, or it seems likely that someone may have died, you must stop or return to the scene as quickly as possible. Failure to do so is a Class E felony. If you are charged with vehicular assault or vehicular homicide, and you are found to not have stopped at the scene, your sentence for failing to stop will be served consecutively with your assault or homicide sentence. This means that you are facing additional jail time for failing to remain at the scene of the accident. And, while not as significant as jail time, being convicted of these crimes will also result in the revocation of your driver’s license.
Statistically speaking, being in a car accident is almost guaranteed. If you cause the accident, for whatever reason, it is always best to remain at the scene. Attempting to flee will only increase your ultimate punishment. If you have caused an accident and fled the scene, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. The sooner the incident is addressed, the better.