Let’s look at an important topic that has the potential to make a bad situation a lot worse. A car crash comes with certain obligations, and fleeing the scene of an accident is never a good idea. When it’s combined with a DUI, it can compound your troubles.
Car Crashes: What You’re Obligated to Do
Under Indiana law, a driver who’s been involved in a collision shall immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to the accident as possible in a manner that does not obstruct traffic more than is necessary. The driver is then obligated to provide specific information to anyone involved in the crash, including:
- vehicle registration number
- driver’s license number
When a car crash leaves someone injured, there are additional steps you’re required to take. In the State of Indiana, you’re obligated to:
- provide reasonable assistance to each person injured in or entrapped by the accident, as directed by a law enforcement officer, medical personnel, or a 911 telephone operator; and
- as soon as possible after the accident, immediately give notice of the accident, or ensure that another person gives notice of the accident, by the quickest means of communication, to the local police, sheriff, state police, or 911 telephone operator.
So what happens if you’re in a collision and you fail to stop and exchange information with the others involved? What if—for whatever reason—you panic and take off? This will almost certainly qualify as leaving the scene of an accident under Indiana law.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene
Leaving the scene of an accident starts as a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. If anyone involved suffered any degree bodily injury, the charge jumps to a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 365 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.
If the crash resulted in moderate bodily injury or serious bodily injury to another person, that can be charged as a Level 6 felony, which carries a maximum penalty of two and a half years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
If the crash resulted in death or catastrophic injury to another person, that can be charged as a Level 4 felony, which carries a maximum penalty of 12 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. These are the standards when intoxication is not a factor.
When Leaving the Scene Is Combined with a DUI Charge
An Indiana DUI, meanwhile, starts as a Class C misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. The element of endangerment will elevate the charge to a Class A misdemeanor.
You can be charged with DUI as a Level 6 felony if you have a prior conviction within the last seven years or if you’re an adult with a minor in the vehicle. When felony DUI overlaps with leaving the scene of an accident, the results can be disastrous.
If you’re involved in a DUI crash that results in serious bodily injury (or worse) and you knowingly or intentionally fail to stop and render aid, you can be charged with a Level 3 felony. This carries a maximum penalty of 16 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Make the Right Call
Sometimes when you make a mistake, you can move on and pretend it didn’t happen. With a car crash, this is almost never a good option. No doubt about it—collisions are stressful. But that’s not a good excuse for fleeing the scene and trying to avoid the consequences.
If you’re charged with leaving the scene of an accident, DUI, or both, the Marc Lopez Law Firm is here to help. Give us a call at 317-632-3642 and remember—always plead the 5th!