Hit and Run Charges
In Washington, the crime of Hit and Run can be either a Simple Misdemeanor or a Gross Misdemeanor, depending on the way the crime is charged. The factor that determines if it is the more serious charge (Gross Misdemeanor) is whether the defendant hit an attended vehicle. A description of each charge is as follows:
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Hit and Run – Attended Vehicle
This is the more serious of the two misdemeanor level charges. It is a Gross Misdemeanor, meaning that you can potentially be sentenced up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. A conviction to this offense also leads to a one year license suspension from the Department of Licensing.
- The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person [shall immediately move the vehicle to the nearest suitable location] and remain at this location until the driver has provided his or her name, address, insurance company, insurance policy number and vehicle license number and exhibit his or her driver’s license number.
- Any driver … failing to stop or to comply with any of the requirements listed above shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
In simple terms, if an individual strikes another vehicle that is occupied, they must immediately stop and exchange all relevant contact and insurance information. This is true even if you are not at fault!
Other Collateral Consequences of “Attended”
As mentioned above, a conviction will result in a one year loss of license. While the person is serving the term of their loss of license, they will be allowed to obtain an Occupational or Restricted License. In addition, for individuals with a CDL, there will most likely be a consequence to their privilege to operate a commercial vehicle. There are ways to resolve a Hit and Run Attended without all of these negative consequences, but that will be outlined after the section on Hit and Run Unattended, because these more favorable ways to resolve a case often apply to both Attended and Unattended.
Hit and Run – Unattended Vehicle or Other Property
This is the lesser of the two offenses. It is a Simple Misdemeanor, meaning that you can potentially be sentenced up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
- The operator of any vehicle which collided with any other vehicle which is unattended shall immediately stop and shall then and there either locate and notify the operator of owner of such vehicle [providing the owner of the struck vehicle your name and address]
- The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to property … adjacent to a public highway shall take reasonable steps to locate and notify the owner … of such fact and of the name and address of the operator and owner of the vehicle striking such property, or shall leave in a conspicuous place upon the property struck a written notice [providing the owner your name and address…
In simple terms, a person who collides with an unattended vehicle, or property that is adjacent to the roadway must stop and either locate the owner of such property or leave in a conspicuous place a note providing all of your relevant information.
Other Collateral Consequences of “Unattended”
Unlike Hit and Run Attended, Unattended DOES NOT result in a suspension or revocation of a person’s drivers license. However, a conviction of this charge will most likely increase your insurance rates. Lastly, for the driver with a CDL, an Unattended will most likely result in a CDL disqualification, just as it does for an Attended.
Hit and Run – Ways to Resolve
For both Hit and Run – Attended and Hit and Run – Unattended, many of the potential resolutions of the charges are the same. The attorneys at Witt Law Group are always looking to avoid a conviction when resolving a case, thus avoiding all the negative consequences that were discussed above.
Common ways that we avoid convictions for our clients are through two different instruments, 1. a Pre-Trial Diversion Agreement (or PDA), or 2. a Compromise of Misdemeanor. Typically, both will achieve the end result of dismissal of the charge.
Our website offers an in-depth analysis of both the PDA and the Compromise of Misdemeanor. To learn more about each, click the following links:
Drivers who receive these charges often think this charge is going to be the end of the world. That is not the case. Our attorneys have been handling these cases for nearly two decades and the results are often surprisingly positive. Witt Law Group is a Hit and Run defense law firm with locations in Bremerton and Gig Harbor Washington. Please reach out if you have been charged or have any question about this topic.
If you were involved in an accident in the middle of the night (attended or unattended), give our office a call immediately. There may be action that you can take to avoid the crime entirely or create an absolute defense if the crime is later charged.
If your Hit and Run is charged as a Felony, the above analysis does not apply. Call our office to discuss the specifics.
To Learn More, Watch Our Hit And Run Video, Below ↓
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