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Georgia Hit and Run / Leaving the Scene of an Accident
A conviction for Hit and Run (also known as Leaving the Scene of an Accident) carries serious legal consequences, and in some cases is classified as a felony offense under Georgia law. It also can result in the loss of driving privileges. You should never go to traffic court and enter a guilty plea to Hit-and-Run / Leaving the Scene of an Accident without speaking to a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney first.
According to O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270, Georgia’s Hit and Run Law, when a driver is involved in an accident resulting in either injury or death or damage to an occupied vehicle must stop the vehicle at the scene and:
- Give his or her name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle.
- If possible, show his or her driver’s license to the other driver(s) involved in the accident.
- Render assistance to injured driver(s) if necessary and if the driver requests it. This may include transporting the individual to the hospital or calling an ambulance.
- If the other driver is unconscious, appears deceased, or is otherwise unable to communicate, make every reasonable effort to contact emergency medical services and local law enforcement.
The law states that every stop should be made without obstructing the flow of traffic more than necessary.
Georgia Hit and Run Penalties
Under Georgia law, Hit and Run may be classified as a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case.
It is important to note that previous pleas of “nolo contendere,” or no contest, will count as convictions for purposes of calculating sentences.
Further, the “five-year” periods are measured by arrest dates, not by conviction dates.
With regard to fines, Georgia law also specifies that fines may not be stayed, probated, or suspended. However, if payment in a lump sum would create an economic hardship, a judge may order that payments be made in installments.
License Implications of a Georgia Hit and Run Conviction
In addition to the penalties above, a conviction for hit-and-run will also result in a mandatory license suspension under O.C.G.A. § 40-5-54.
For the first conviction in 5 years for hit-and-run or another serious driving offense (such as homicide by vehicle, racing, use of a motor vehicle in attempting to flee or elude a law enforcement officer, or any felony involving the use of a motor vehicle), the license suspension will last for an initial period of 12 months. However, after 120 days (4 months), the driver may apply for early reinstatement if he or she completes a Defensive Driving course or a Risk Reduction Program. He or she must also pay a reinstatement fee of $210 (if paid in person) or $200 (if paid by mail). During the first 120 days of the suspension, a limited permit may be available. Click here to learn more about limited permits, also known as hardship licenses.
For the second conviction in 5 years for hit-and-run or another serious driving offense, the suspension period will last for a period of 3 years. Early reinstatement may be granted after 120 days if the driver completes a Defensive Driving course or a Risk Reduction Program. A reinstatement fee of $210 (in person) or $200 (by mail) must also be paid.
Upon a third conviction in 5 years for hit-and-run or another serious driving offense, the individual is considered a habitual violator and his or her license will be revoked for a period of 5 years. After 2 years have elapsed, the individual may be able to apply for a probationary license.
Overlap with the Duty to Report Accident Law
There is significant overlap between the Hit and Run law and the Duty to Report an Accident statute. Both are applicable when an accident results in injury, death, or property damage. The Hit and Run law does not have a damage threshold, whereas the “Duty to report an accident resulting in injury, death, or property damage” statute does. That means it's actually easier to get charged with Hit and Run than with Failure to Report an Accident.
The Hit and Run statute requires drivers to give the other driver certain information and render assistance if the other driver is injured. This includes calling EMS and local law enforcement. In contrast, the Duty to Report an Accident statute only requires drivers to notify law enforcement. I'd generally advise drivers to contact law enforcement any time there is an accident, because it can avoid both charges. That's not to say it insulates you from all charges - you can still be charged with driving offenses if the accident was your fault.
The most significant difference is in the consequences of a conviction. If you are convicted of Hit and Run in Georgia, you face an automatic license suspension. A conviction for Failure to Report an Accident will result in 3 points on your license. Thus, a conviction for Failure to Report Accident can be much less damaging for your driving prospects.
Why hire a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney for Hit and Run charge?
Because Hit-and-Run is considered such a serious crime and can result in huge fines, probation, community services, and imprisonment, you need an attorney on your side who will fight for you. Call me today.
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