HIT AND RUN

In Georgia, leaving the scene of an accident will most frequently be classified as a misdemeanor offense, and is defined as a “hit and run.” It can have serious consequences in the laws of our state, including collateral consequences, such as a suspension of the accused person’s driver’s license. According to O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270, the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident, which results in an injury/ death of a person, or damage to another vehicle, has the duty to immediately stop after the accident. A driver also has the duty to return to the scene of the accident if he/she did not immediately stop their vehicle. When the driver has returned to the scene, he/she also has the following duties:

  1. The driver must give their name, address, and registration number of their vehicle;
  2. Upon request, show proof of their driver’s license;
  3. If any person is injured in the accident, the driver has the duty to assist the injured person; and
  4. If any person is unconscious or appears deceased, the driver must call 911.

A hit and run in Georgia usually will be classified as a misdemeanor, however, if the accident is the cause of a person’s death or serious injury, the accused could be charged with a felony offense, which includes a prison sentence of 1-5 years in custody. In all other cases, a hit and run will be classified as a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a $1000 fine.

REDUCED CHARGES

An experienced criminal defense attorney will negotiate with the prosecution to reduce a hit and run to a lesser offense. A hit and run charge will suspend an accused person’s driver’s license for a period of four months. Therefore, it is of vital importance to either be found “not guilty” of hit and run, or to reduce the hit and run to a non-suspendable offense.

The most common alternatives to a hit and run are (1) striking an unattended vehicle, or (2) duty to report. Striking an unattended vehicle, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 40-6-271, means that a driver collides with an unattended vehicle and did not immediately stop to locate the owner of the vehicle. Duty to report, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 40-6-273, describes a circumstance where the driver is obligated to report an accident to the local police department when there are injuries to another party.

Both alternative charges are non-suspendable offenses. This means that there will not be a license suspension attached, if convicted. Therefore, because the accused will avoid a license suspension, reduced charges tend to be more favorable, and an experienced criminal defense attorney will attempt to negotiate for that resolution in order to save their client’s license.

Due to the complexity of a hit and run charge, it is of vital importance to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable of all possible options for their client, trained at defending such allegations, and zealously advocates for their client’s constitutional rights. At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, we do just that. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been cited or arrested for a hit and run, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Georgia’s New Distracted Driving Law for Georgia Drivers

by Mary Agramonte

 

As you have probably heard, Georgia’s new law on Distracted Driving will become effective on July 1, 2018. Georgia’s legislature has made the use of a cell phone will driving illegal in response to an alarming rise of traffic fatalities and serious injuries from car accidents.

The new law will prohibit Georgia drivers from the following:

  • Holding a cell phone at all
  • Texting, reading/ sending emails, using internet
  • Watching or recording videos

The following use of electronic devices will still be allowed even under the new law:

  • Speaking/texting with voice based communication
  • Using an earpiece or Bluetooth to talk on the phone
  • Using a navigation or GPS app

The punishment under this new law will be fines, fees, and points. Specifically, for a first conviction in 24 months, you will face a fine of $50.00 which will not include any surcharges and taxes. A second conviction will increase to $100.00 plus court costs and surcharges.

While the cost is fairly slight for a traffic offense, there will be other repercussions of the law. If an officer sees you on the phone, he now has the ability to pull your vehicle over which in some cases could lead to more serious charges. For example, an officer who has lawfully pulled you over for using your phone can then observe an odor of alcohol coming from your vehicle which can then lead to a DUI arrest.

Overall, this bill is being enacted to save lives as talking and texting on a cell phone while driving places other drivers and pedestrians at risk. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, Georgia will now join the other 47 states that have already enacted laws prohibited texting and driving.

Atlanta Hit and Run Attorneys

by Mary Agramonte

Whenever you are in a car accident involving either property damage or personal injury, Georgia law provides that a driver is required to do the following things:

  • Give your name, address, and registration of the vehicle
  • Upon request, provide a driver’s license
  • Render reasonable aid to injured parties – such as transporting or making arrangements to transport a person to medical treatment if its apparent medical treatment is needed
  • Where person is unconscious, appears deceased, or is otherwise unable to communicate, you must make reasonable effort to ensure emergency medical service and police are contacted.

Under Georgia law, a driver involved in an accident must remain on scene until all four requirements are met. If a driver neglects one or more of the requirements, they can later be arrested and charged with the crime of Hit and Run.

Hit and Run under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-270 is one of the most serious traffic crimes to face. The Department of Driver Services classifies it as a “Major” violation which is in the same category of DUI, Vehicular Homicide, and Fleeing. Hit and Run can not only land you with probation and high fines, it will suspend your license, and can result in you facing jail time.

There are defenses to Hit and Run and ways to negotiate the case to significantly less serious offenses that will not result in jail or a suspended license. With experienced Georgia Hit and Run attorneys on your side, you can fight the case and keep your freedom and driving privileges. If you or someone you know has been involved in a Hit and Run, it is important to retain Hit and Run attorneys quickly. In some cases, an accomplished Hit and Run attorney can be proactive in negotiating lesser charges even before a surrender process. Call us today at 404-581-0999 for a FREE CONSULTATION with one of our knowledgeable Georgia Hit and Run attorneys.