By: William C. Head, Award-Winning Georgia Hit and Run Attorney Atlanta
A hit and run accident in Atlanta GA for leaving the scene of an accident with an occupied vehicle can create serious criminal law and civil law consequences. After a Georgia accident, when potential clients call us, their first question addresses “is a hit and run a felony?” The short answer is sometimes.
Citizens accused as hit and run drivers have searched Google for the GA hit and run definition and are petrified to learn about some hit and run sentences that send people to state prison. Then, they are frantic to learn how to get hit and run charges dropped under Georgia law.
The Top 9 other questions about Georgia hit and run law the partners at our law firm are asked are:
All the above questions should be answered below, so read further.
It is only fair to mention one maxim. From our collective experience of nearly eight decades as criminal justice attorneys and representing clients from thousands of accidents on Georgia roadways and parking lots, most of the hit and run accidents also involved charges for drunk driving or drugged driving. Plus, police race to a hit & run call to try to apprehend that missing driver fully expecting that the driver was driving under the influence, which is a violation of 40-6-391.
Once our law group is retained by a client who has a hit and run, DUI charges substantially increase the urgency of retaining a leaving the scene of an accident lawyer who is also a civil litigation accident lawyer. Plus, DUI/hit and run punishment (on average) will be greater than if sentenced on only one of these serious motor vehicle crimes.
To paraphrase the Georgia hit and run statute OCGA 40-6-270:
The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in personal injury to or the death of any person or damage to an occupied vehicle must stop the vehicle at the scene or as close to the scene of the accident as possible.
To avoid hit and run Atlanta charges, the person should return to the scene of the accident and:
Under the misdemeanor hit and run Georgia statute, what happens if you hit a car and run?
Many factual variables on leaving the scene of an accident GA can occur after this happens, including:
a. The client gets away and goes home, at which point an officer comes to the residence and arrests him or her, because someone got the license plate number and the law enforcement officer is convinced that OCGA 40 6 270 is the underlying crime being committed;
b. The client leaves the scene, but does not go home and it not confronted by police until days later;
c. The client’s car is disabled by the car accident, yet the driver escapes on foot before police arrive, and do not locate the person for over 24 hours; or
d. The client checks on the other driver, learns that no one is injured, and gives his or her phone number, vehicle registration and insurance information required by hit and run laws in Georgia, and then takes an Uber and leaves the scene (or drives away).
When police find the driver and both DUI and hit and run are accused, if convicted of both a DUI, hit and run, then these are both HV-level offenses. If that person has had any other HV-level offenses, conviction of both leaving the scene of an accident and DUI may result in an HV license revocation for 5 years.
The title of that GA Code section is: Hit and run; duty of driver to stop at or return to scene of accident. Under the Georgia laws, the location of the 2010 updated laws is: Georgia/2010/title-40/chapter-6/article-12.
Although most cases start with receiving a citation for leaving the scene of an accident this traffic ticket can carry a very harsh hit and run penalty.
The full statute says the following:
(a) The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or the death of any person or in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of the accident or shall stop as close thereto as possible and forthwith return to the scene of the accident and shall:
(1) Give his or her name and address and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving;
(2) Upon request and if it is available, exhibit his or her operator’s license to the person struck or the driver or occupant of or person attending any vehicle collided with;
(3) Render to any person injured in such accident reasonable assistance, including the transporting, or the making of arrangements for the transporting, of such person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or if such transporting is requested by the injured person; and
(4) Where a person injured in such accident is unconscious, appears deceased, or is otherwise unable to communicate, make every reasonable effort to ensure that emergency medical services and local law enforcement are contacted for the purpose of reporting the accident and making a request for assistance.
The driver shall in every event remain at the scene of the accident until fulfilling the requirements of this subsection. Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.
(b) If such accident is the proximate cause of death or a serious injury, any person knowingly failing to stop and comply with the requirements of subsection (a) of this Code section shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.
(1) If such accident is the proximate cause of an injury other than a serious injury or if such accident resulted in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person, any person knowingly failing to stop or comply with the requirements of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and:
(A) Upon conviction shall be fined not less than $300.00 nor more than $1,000.00, which fine shall not be subject to suspension, stay, or probation, or imprisoned for up to 12 months, or both;
(B) Upon the second conviction within a five-year period of time, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained to the date of the current arrest for which a conviction is obtained, shall be fined not less than $600.00 nor more than $1,000.00, which fine shall not be subject to suspension, stay, or probation, or imprisoned for up to 12 months, or both; and for purposes of this subparagraph, previous pleas of nolo contendere accepted within such five-year period shall constitute convictions; and
(C) Upon the third or subsequent conviction within a five-year period of time, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained to the date of the current arrest for which a conviction is obtained, shall be fined $1,000.00, which fine shall not be subject to suspension, stay, or probation, or imprisoned for up to 12 months, or both; and for purposes of this subparagraph, previous pleas of nolo contendere accepted within such five-year period shall constitute convictions.
(2) For the purpose of imposing a sentence under this subsection, a plea of nolo contendere shall constitute a conviction.
(3) If the payment of the fine required under this subsection will impose an economic hardship on the defendant, the judge, at his sole discretion, may order the defendant to pay such fine in installments and such order may be enforced through a contempt proceeding or a revocation of any probation otherwise authorized by this Code section.
(d) Notwithstanding the limits set forth in any municipal charter, any municipal court of any municipality shall be authorized to impose the punishments provided for in this Code section upon a conviction of violating this Code section or upon conviction of violating any ordinance adopting the provisions of this Code section.
For any felony hit and run, jail time can be up to 15 years per serious injury or death.
The hit and run laws in GA state it is the driver’s duty to stop after this car accident has occurred. State law criminalizes the conduct of a driver who hits another occupied vehicle or person and fails to stop to render aid, check for injuries, or call 911.
A Georgia hit and run driver can face misdemeanor or felony punishment depending on the severity of the injury if convicted, and the driver knowingly fails to stop and comply with all the applicable provisions under Section 40-6-270.
In addition, the DUI hit and run penalty under Georgia criminal laws is only part of this hit and run punishment. If convicted, you also face:
Leaving the scene of an auto accident and facing hit and run charges can be a long-term financial disaster. Even a misdemeanor hit and run charge.
Since this will be a criminal offense (if convicted), the injured person may seek punitive damages. These are extra damages, not covered by your car liability insurance, that are designed to punish the other for inflicting pain and suffering.
Police will arrive on the scene for the insurance company and legal reasons. If this hit and run accident causes serious injury or death, any person who knowingly fails to stop and comply with the requirements of the above Code section shall be guilty of a FELONY that is punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison.
If you are involved in this type of accident, attorney Bubba Head and his law partners can help. The CALL is FREE. The INITIAL CONSULTATION is FREE. Payment plans are available.
Why not call upon Georgia’s three Super Lawyers for a FREE consultation? You will be speaking to hit and run defense lawyer Atlanta Cory Yager (an ex-cop), leaving the scene of an accident lawyer Larry Kohn or 43-year veteran criminal attorney and hit and run lawyer Atlanta Bubba Head for legal advice before your hit and run GA case explodes. Dial our law office at 404-567-5515, 24 hours a day.