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:
- The driver must give their name, address, and registration number of their vehicle;
- Upon request, show proof of their driver’s license;
- If any person is injured in the accident, the driver has the duty to assist the injured person; and
- 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.
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.