Fleeing the scene of an accident may be a simple mistake or a deliberate attempt to avoid consequences, but either way it carries the potential for serious criminal charges. Alabama Code Title 32 Chapter 10 outlines that when a person is involved in any type of auto accident, the driver has a responsibility and obligation to remain at the scene to provide information and render help. The driver must give their name address, insurance information, contact information, and driver’s license number to either the other people involved or to a law enforcement officer before leaving the scene.
In addition, any individuals involved in the wreck are obligated to provide assistance to anyone injured in the accident. This can include seeking medical help, calling law enforcement, or arranging transportation to a hospital.
If a person does not make reasonable efforts to provide the required information and medical help, they can be charged with leaving the scene of an accident, also known as hit and run. Alabama dictates that if no one was injured during the accident, the driver faces a Class A misdemeanor. This offense carries the potential for up to a year in jail and a fine up to $6000.
If a person was injured or killed in the accident, a driver who flees the scene can be charged with a Class C felony, which carries a minimum sentence of one year in jail that can be extended up to 10 years, as well as a fine of up to $15,000.
In addition, drivers may face probation, loss of driving privileges, other fees, and more consequences for leaving the scene of an accident irresponsibly. An offender will likely see a drastic increase in auto insurance rates and may even be denied coverage from certain providers.
Alabama Code 32-10-1 even outlines the procedure if a driver strikes an unattended vehicle. This law states that a driver may not leave the scene of the accident until they have made reasonable effort to locate or notify the owner of the other vehicle, whether visible damage was inflicted or not. If the owner cannot be located, “a written notice must be left in a conspicuous area containing the driver’s name and address, along with a statement containing information regarding the accident.”
In a similar manner, damage to highway fixtures must also be reported, as stated in Alabama Code 32-10-4. If a driver strikes a sign, railing, or other property, they must take reasonable steps to take accountability for their actions and make amends to the owner of the property. Failure to do so can result in criminal charges.