Car accidents can be nerve-wracking events and no matter how much you mentally prepare for getting into an accident “one day,” when that day comes you may be in shock, nervous, and not exactly thinking with a clear head.
After a person is in an accident, they may get scared and speed away, but when they do this they’re actually breaking the law and can face criminal charges under Section 3742(a) of the Pennsylvania Code.
What if it wasn’t the person’s fault? Are they still breaking the law if they take off? Unfortunately, yes, it’s still against the law to flee the scene of an accident, even if it’s not the driver’s fault.
Each state has enacted some sort of hit and run law, or law that prohibits fleeing the scene of an accident. In Pennsylvania, drivers are required to immediately stop their vehicle at the scene of an accident and remain there until they have fulfilled all of the requirements covered under Section 3744, which relates to a person’s duty to provide information and render aid.
Under Section 3744(a) of the Pennsylvania Code, when a driver is in an accident that results in injury or death, or damage to any vehicle, the driver must:
- Provide their name, address, and the registration number of their vehicle to the other parties of the accident,
- Upon request, show their driver’s license and proof of automobile insurance,
- If anyone was injured in the accident, provide reasonable assistance, including calling 911 or making arrangements to get the injured person medical care if needed, and
- Report the accident to the police.
Under Sec. 3742(a), if you are in an accident that involves bodily injury or death and you fail to complete the steps above, specifically, if you flee the scene of the accident without stopping and rendering aid, you are committing a misdemeanor of the first degree.
However, if someone suffers serious bodily injury and you flee the scene of the accident, you commit a felony of the third degree, punishable by:
- At least 90 days behind bars
- A minimum fine of $1,000
If someone dies in the accident and you fled the scene, you commit a felony of the second degree, punishable by a minimum of three years in prison, and by a minimum fine of $2,500, even if the accident wasn’t your fault.