When you think of a hit and run crime, you probably think of a driver who causes a major accident and then quickly flees the scene to escape taking responsibility. While this does happen, most hit and run cases are much more innocuous, but that doesn’t mean the criminal charges are any less severe. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at hit and run charges in Illinois, and we explain how we help defend clients against these charges.
Hit And Run Charges In Illinois
Illinois law states that individuals involved in an automobile accident must stop their vehicle and render assistance to a reasonable extent. What’s “reasonable” is open to interpretation, but drivers are also required to exchange contact and insurance information. If you fail to do this, and the other party wants to file a claim, you can be charged with a hit and run.
This happens more than you might imagine in Illinois. We actually rank fourth in the nation in terms of individuals with a prior hit and run violation (we’re twice the national average). Many of those individuals aren’t involved in the types of accidents we described above, either. They are much more likely to tap a bumper while parallel parking or unknowingly clip a side mirror while leaving the grocery store. If someone witnesses these actions, or they are caught by a surveillance camera, you can be charged with leaving the scene of an accident. The consequences of a hit and run conviction are often much more severe than had you stayed around, reported the accident and filed a claim with insurance.
Hit & Run Penalties
If you are charged with leaving the scene of an accident that caused injury or property damage, you will usually face the following penalties:
- Hit and Run with only Property Damage – A Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and fines up to $2,500.
- Hit and Run with Injury – A Class 4 felony, punishable by up to three years in prison and fines up to $25,000.
- Hit and run with Fatality – A Class 3 felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison and fines of up to $25,000.
Aside from the monetary fines and potential for jail time, you may also face the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license and increases to your automobile insurance premiums. This can also have an impact on your ability to maintain employment or provide for your family. Needless to say, you shouldn’t take these charges lightly.
There’s no perfect playbook for defending clients against hit and run charges, but we strive to look at the totality of the circumstances. Maybe we can prove that you were completely unaware of the accident and therefore did not intentionally leave the scene of the accident, or maybe your rights were violated at the time of your arrest. There’s also the possibility that you didn’t stop the can out of fear because the other driver was acting aggressively or in a threatening manner. There are so many angles that need to be analyzed and interpreted, and we can do all of that put help you put forth the best defense.
So if you are facing hit and run charges in Illinois, know that your freedom and your ability to earn an income may be on the line. Contact Appelman & Lloyd to see how we can help get the charges reduced or dismissed so that you can get back to a normal life. For a free case consultation, give us a call at (630) 717-7801.