Texas law requires that drivers immediately stop following an accident. If they don’t, then they are likely committing a crime. The Texas Transportation Code lays out a motorists’ duties following an accident and what penalties they will face if they fail to fulfill them.
Under the law, a hit and run involving bodily injury or death is a felony. But today we want to look at what happens if you get into a wreck that causes only damage to a vehicle. Some people are surprised to learn they still need to stop, even if no one has suffered a bodily injury. But it’s true—and if you flee the scene instead, you could face criminal charges.
What You Must Do Following a Car Accident
Texas Transportation Code sections 550.022 and 550.023 lay out the steps drivers must follow after a crash resulting in vehicle damage:
- Immediately stop your car or stop as close as you can so you aren’t obstructing the flow of traffic.
- Return to the scene immediately if you had to park a little way away.
- Provide your name and address, registration number, and insurance information to the owner of the car you hit.
- Share your driver’s license if requested.
- If the vehicle is unattended when you hit it, then you must take additional steps before pulling away:
- Find the owner or operator and give them your name and address, or
- If you can’t find the owner, put a note in an obvious place that contains your name and address, along with a short statement of what happened (such as “I hit your car”).
If you violate any of these requirements, you have broken the law and can be charged with a misdemeanor.
Penalties for Fleeing the Scene of the Accident
The charges you face will depend on the value of damage to all vehicles:
- If the damage is less than $200, you face Class C misdemeanor charges, which carry a maximum $500 fine but no time in jail.
- If the damage is $200 or more, you face Class B misdemeanor charges, which can result in up to six months in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine
In this day and age, almost any damage to a car will be worth at least $200 unless it is only a half-inch scratch on the fender. Most people charged with this crime will face Class B charges. The only smart choice is to stop your car and find the owner.
Points Added to Your License
Any traffic violation will also result in points going on your driving record. In Texas, a crash adds three points. These points will stay on your record for three years and could, if you get enough points, result in a driver needing to pay a surcharge or even suffering the loss of their license.
Contact a League City Misdemeanor Attorney for a Free Consultation
Traffic attorney Tad Nelson has helped many drivers get out of a jam following an accident. If you’ve been charged with a hit and run, please contact our law firm today to speak with a team member.