In Ohio, the most common offense for leaving the scene of a crash is a violation of subsection 2(a) of Ohio Revised Code 4549 for "Stopping after accident; exchange of identity and vehicle registration." The offense is charged as a misdemeanor of the first degree. See R.C. 4549 .02(A). This offense is often called a "hit and skip," "hit and run," or "tap and run."
A different statute in Ohio for "Failure to stop after accident involving property of others" can be charged under subsection 3(A) of Ohio Revised Code 4549.03 when the crash involves property adjacent to the roadway. See R.C. 4549.03(3)(A).
Officers often charge a person with the wrong statute. The statutes distinguish between the reporting requirements after a crash with property damage on the roadway or off the roadway. The statute also distinguishes between a crash with a person or vehicle as opposed to other types of property, such as a building, fence, stop sign, or mail box.
After Leaving the Scene, Expect Law Enforcement Officers to Coming Looking for You
If you leave the scene of an accident involving either personal injury or property damage, you should expect law enforcement officers to aggressively investigate the crash. When they identify a suspect, they will often go to the suspect's home or work to interrogate the suspect and find the vehicle involved in the crash.
If you retain a criminal defense lawyer in Columbus, Ohio for a hit and skip incident, your attorney can assist you by making contact with the officers investigating the incident. The attorney can also help you invoke your right to remain silent, which might discourage the officers from coming to your house or place of business. Anything you say can be used against you, so attorneys can be particularly helpful in these types of cases.
If law enforcement officers do not have sufficient evidence, then a defense attorney can help convince them not to pursue the charges. If they do decide to seek an arrest warrant, an attorney can also help you deal negotiate your surrender in a way that might save you time, money and frustration.
Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Columbus, Ohio, to discuss your case. We can help you understand the difference between the two different types of hit-and-run statutes in Ohio.
What To Do After a Crash
If you are involved in an accident, then Ohio law requires you to stop and remain at the scene. You are also required to provide the other person involved, the driver of the other vehicle, or a police officer on the scene with the following information:
- Your name;
- Your address;
- The registration number of your vehicle; and
- The name and address of the owner of the vehicle (if you are not the owner of the vehicle).
Although it is not required in the statute, you should also provide your insurance information. It is a good idea to make a copy of your insurance card and driver's license and leave these documents in your glove box. Then if you are ever in an accident, it is easy to give the other person involved all of the information necessary to comply with Ohio law.
Regardless of whether the crash was your fault or the other party's fault, you are required to remain at the scene until the information has been exchanged. If the other vehicle involved in the crash is not occupied and you cannot find the owner, then you should leave the require information in writing and attach it to the vehicle so that it is visible.
R.C. 4549.02(A) -- Ohio "Hit and Skip"
The Courts in Ohio have previously held that Revised Code 4549.02(A) applies when the defendant's vehicle collides with either a pedestrian or another motor vehicle. Ohio's "Hit-Skip" Statute describes what constitutes a violation of R.C. 4549.02(A) and reads as follows:
(A) In case of accident to or collision with persons or property upon any of the public roads or highways, due to the driving or operation thereon of any motor vehicle, the person driving or operating the motor vehicle, having knowledge of the accident or collision, immediately shall stop the ... vehicle at the scene of the accident or collision and shall remain at the scene of the accident or collision until the driver ... has given the driver's ... name and address ... to any person injured in the accident or collision or to the operator, occupant, owner, or attendant of any motor vehicle damaged in the accident or collision, or to any police officer at the scene of the accident or collision.
By its very terms, R.C. 4549.02 provides that any accident subject to the "Hit and Skip" section involves a collision with either a pedestrian or another motor vehicle. Without evidence of an accident or collision involving a pedestrian or another vehicle, there would be insufficient evidence to support the charge. In other words, the prosecutor must prove that another person was injured or another motor vehicle was damaged as a result of the accident. The charges are not appropriate in a case involving a one-car accident when no pedestrian is injured.
These cases are common in situations where the defendant is accused of striking a pedestrian, a person riding a bike, or another vehicle where people are injured. R.C. 4549.02(A) also applies when drivers hit parked vehicles and leave the scene without stopping to provide their information.
A key requirement of R.C. 4549.02(A) is the "failure to notify" one of the specified parties. "Hit-Skip" in violation of R.C. 4549.02(A) requires proof of multiple elements including that there was an accident or collision with persons or property upon the roadway, and the defendant failed to report it to any of three types of people before leaving the scene, including:
- any person injured in the accident or collision; or
- the operator, occupant, owner, or attendant of any motor vehicle damaged in the accident or collision; or
- any police officer at the scene of the accident or collision
When determining whether a crash occurred with property upon the roadway, it is important to note that Revised Code 4511.01(EE) defines "roadway" as "that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, except the berm or shoulder. If a highway includes two or more separate roadways the term 'roadway' means any such roadway separately but not all such roadways collectively."
Also, Revised Code 4511.01(BB) defines "[s]treet" or "highway" as "the entire width between the boundary lines of every way open to the use of the public as a thoroughfare for purposes of vehicular travel."
R.C. 4549.03(A) -- Failure to Stop After an Accident in Ohio
"Failure to stop after accident involving property of others" in violation of Revised Code 4549.03(A) reads as follows:
(A) The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in damage to real property, or personal property attached to real property, legally upon or adjacent to a public road or highway immediately shall stop and take reasonable steps to locate and notify the owner or person in charge of the property of that fact[.]
Charges under R.C. 4549.03 are appropriate when the facts of the case involve a collision with property located adjacent to a highway. For instance, when an accident involves a utility pole, mailbox or fence, it is may be difficult to identify the owner of the property. The statute provides for a 24-hour period for reporting such an accident.
Warrants for "Hit-and-Skip" Cases in Columbus, Ohio -- Visit the website of the Columbus City Attorney, Richard C. Pfeiffer, to find information on outstanding warrants for "hit-skip." The website shows "wanted" photos of the individuals accused of this offense as shown by the Clerk of the Franklin County Municipal Court. Related offenses often include Driving Under OVI Suspension, No Operator's License, Driving Under Suspension, Failure to Reinstate License, and Failure to Stop-Accident. The City Attorney's Office is located at 77 N. Front St., Columbus, Ohio 43215.
Finding a Hit Skip Attorney in Columbus, OH
Contact the Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 for a consultation about your criminal charges for failure to stop after an accident in Franklin County and surrounding counties, including Pickaway County, Madison County, Delaware County, Licking County, and Fairfield County in Ohio. We also represent clients on charges of hit and run or hit-skip in Columbus, Ohio, and the surrounding areas.