Hit and Run Laws in Texas
Leaving the scene of an accident without exchanging information or helping an injured person can lead to charges of Failure to Stop and Render Aid or Failure to Stop and Give Information, in Texas. It is not against the law to have an unintentional accident where there are no drugs, alcohol or negligence involved. An auto accident is a largely a civil matter. However criminal charges can be filed if a person involved in an accident does not stop and instead flees the scene. Recent hit and run incidents make it clear just how serious this action can be. Having an understanding about hit and run laws in Texas can help people avoid breaking the law or prepare a legal defense if they are facing charges.
Duty to Stop and Exchange Information
Drivers have a duty to stop and exchange information when involved in an accident. Texas Transportation Code Section 550.023 states that the operator of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in the injury or death of a person or damage to a vehicle that is driven or attended by a person shall:
(1) give the operator’s name and address, the registration number of the vehicle the operator was driving, and the name of the operator’s motor vehicle liability insurer to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision;
(2) if requested and available, show the operator’s driver’s license to a person described by Subdivision (1); and
(3) provide any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangements for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation.
Legal Definition of Failure to Stop and Render Aid
Texas Transportation Code Section 550.021 defines the duty and law of Failure to Stop and Render Aid as follow:
ACCIDENT INVOLVING PERSONAL INJURY OR DEATH. (a) The operator of a vehicle involved in an accident that results or is reasonably likely to result in injury to or death of a person shall:
(1) immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible;
(2) immediately return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident;
(3) immediately determine whether a person is involved in the accident, and if a person is involved in the accident, whether that person requires aid; and
(4) remain at the scene of the accident until the operator complies with the requirements of Section 550.023
A person commits an offense if the person does not stop or does not comply with the requirements of this section.
The penalties for a Hit and Run conviction can vary depending on the accident and possible injuries or death. For example, if the accident involving injury leads to the death of a person the penalty can be:
• Conviction on a second degree felony charge
• Up to 20 years in state prison
• A fine of up to $10,000
• Possible restitution to the victim’s family
If a person is convicted of the above offense but a person sustains serious bodily injury as a result of the accident, the punishment can be:
• Imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for not more than five years or confinement in the county jail for not more than one year;
• A fine not to exceed $5,000;
• both the fine and the imprisonment or confinement.
Recent Hit and Run Cases in Texas
In October of 2015, a 20 year old woman was charged in the Hit and Run death of a cyclist The victim was riding his bike after midnight along Spencer Highway when he was hit by a pick-up truck and killed. The driver didn’t stop. The victim’s body was left on the road.
According to a court filing, the suspect’s vehicle, a 2008 Ford F-150, had the victim’s blood and hair on the inside and outside of the truck. The 20-year-old driver is now charged with failure to stop and render aid in a crash involving death and facing up to 20years in prison.
Are you facing charges of Failure to Stop and Render Aid or Failure to Stop and Give Information? Did you panic and leave the scene of an auto accident? Attorney Mario Madrid can provide the defense you need in these difficult times. Contact his office today at (713) 877-9400.
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