According to recent statistics, nearly 11% of all automotive accidents are classified as hit-and-run situations. This number is a result of the gradually growing number of these types of cases throughout the United States in past years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has stated that from 1998-2002 alone, there was a 15% increase in hit and run collisions. With this rising number, law enforcement has striven to identify these perpetrators with increased vigor.
Hit and run scenarios are a result of a driver contributing to or instigating a vehicular accident and failing to stop to exchange necessary information. It can involve either hitting a person, fixture or another automobile and is considered a criminal offense. Penalties vary for this offense and are dependent upon the result of the accident. West Virginia State laws define the consequences for this kind of accident in §17C-4-1 by clarifying the punishments according to whether or not the victim was injured or killed. If the person involved was injured it is considered a misdemeanor, but if death is the result then it is classified as a felony. The penalties are as follows:
- Accident Involving Death: Possibility of up to 3 years in prison and fines up to $5,000
- Accident Involving Injury: Containment in county jail up to one year and fines of $1,000
In all cases involving hit and run, the driver will have his/her license taken away for at least one year if convicted of a hit and run accident. This can result in a loss of freedom and well-being. It will remain on the driver's permanent criminal record and create an imminent challenge in pursuing any educational institutions or careers. When facing these types of severe charges, it is essential that you speak with a qualified attorney as soon as possible to avoid serious consequences.