Hit and Run in Georgia
Author: Joseph A. Conoscienti, Partner, Conoscienti, Ledbetter & Archer
Mr. Conoscienti specializes in criminal law but likewise has experience in general civil trial practice. Joseph Conoscienti is a part-time Associate Judge for the Municipality of Avonndale Estates, Georgia. Published on August 14, 2018, last updated on June 13, 2019.
If you’ve experienced a hit and run in Georgia, you have may have questions about OCGA 40-6-270, what’s legally required for the drivers involved, or what to do at the scene of an accident. Our complete guide to hit and run in Georgia will tell you everything you need to know, including your legal options.
Our experience with hit and run in Georgia comes from over 43 years of combined legal experience in Georgia. Attorneys Joseph Conoscienti and Blake Ledbetter possess significant experience defending clients against a variety of criminal charges (drug distribution, assault, and more) in Atlanta and the State of Georgia, including hit and run. Uniquely, the firm also possesses the experience required to litigate a civil case in the event you have been injured from a hit and run.
A hit and run in Georgia can lead to serious consequences including license suspension, insurance hikes, criminal penalties, and financial penalties. If you’ve been involved in a hit and run accident – on either side of the coin, don’t hesitate to give us a call. No matter your situation, we can help guide you through to discover your best options.
Hit and Run Georgia
“Hit and run” Georgia is the term used when a driver operating a vehicle strikes another occupied vehicle and then leaves the scene of the accident in the state of Georgia. Leaving the scene of the accident violates Georgia law.
If you hit another vehicle, according to Georgia state law you are responsible for:
- Stopping at or close to the scene of accident
- Sharing your information and driver’s license (if requested)
- Aiding the injured, if possible, and contacting police and emergency services
- Remaining at the scene
If the other driver says they do not think calling the police is necessary, you should still follow the above steps, even if no one appears to be injured. Having a police report about the accident can be useful when filing insurance claims and/or if you have to go to court because of the accident.
If you experience a hit and run Georgia, it is even more important to contact the police. One of the really scary things about a hit and run accident is that if someone is seriously injured and the other driver runs away, there may not be anyone to call an ambulance. Hit and run accidents can also make it more difficult with insurance; you may have to use your own insurance if the at-fault driver leaves and cannot be found. If you are using your vehicle in a commercial capacity, such as for Uber or Lyft, there may be additional considerations as well.
If you are the victim of a hit and run in Georgia, contact law enforcement and provide them with all available information about the accident. This could help them later when searching for the at-fault driver. Also, you should document any information about the driver (i.e. physical appearance), the vehicle’s make, model, and license plate number, and the accident, including traffic and weather conditions. If there were witnesses, write down their contact information for the police and then take photos of damage using your cell phone.
Though it is not required by Georgia law, residents have the option to purchase Uninsured Motorist Insurance as part of their insurance policy. This will allow them to receive compensation in the event of a hit and run or if they are hit by a driver without car insurance. Once the offending driver is caught, a claim can be filed with their insurance company for further compensation.
If you have been involved in a hit and run in Georgia, it may be useful to contact an attorney to get professional, personalized advice on how to handle the situation.
Georgia Hit and Run Laws
Georgia hit and run laws are enumerated in OCGA 40-6-270, which also explains other car accident-related rules like what to do in the case of a wreck. In Georgia, a hit and run is a serious offense – even more so than a DUI – because it is a crime of specific intent. Namely, a decision was made to flee the scene of an accident, so there will be harsher penalties (e.g. skyrocketing insurance rates, license suspension with no driving privileges, and even jail time). To avoid severe consequences, you should follow the law. If in an accident, you must:
- Call the proper authorities and give the other driver your name, address, insurance information, and vehicle registration number. If asked, you should also provide them with you driver’s license information.
- Reasonably assist any injured persons (without moving them) or ask an ambulance to be sent to the scene. If the other driver (or vehicle’s passengers) appear to be unconscious or deceased, immediately call 911 for emergency medical services.
- Remain at the scene of the accident and cooperate with police and medical personnel. They will dismiss you when your post-accident responsibilities have been fulfilled.
If you fail to comply with the above and leave the scene of the accident, you may be subject to penalties under Georgia’s hit and run statute OCGA 40-6-270, which offers a complete guide to the duties of a driver in the event of an accident as well as explaining hit and run definition and penalties.
The penalties of violating Georgia hit and run laws can include fines, jail time, revoked license, probation, and more. The offending driver may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, depending upon the severity of the other driver and passengers’ injuries. Also, the penalties are more serious if it is your second offense or more.
Under OCGA 40-6-270, being convicted of a first time (or subsequent) hit and run misdemeanor means you could be fined between $300 and $1,000 and subject to license suspension, probation, or imprisonment of up to twelve months. If the accident is the cause of the other driver’s death or serious injury, knowingly failing to stop and comply with the above-mentioned responsibilities may cause the conviction of a felony and could be punished by imprisonment of one to five years. What the driver is charged with – a felony or misdemeanor – depends on how serious the injuries and damage are.
Sometimes, drivers are accused of committing hit and runs, though they did not actually commit the offense according to Georgia law. It’s important to know your rights. You may be improperly charged with a hit and run if the following occurs:
- If a driver hits an empty car, telephone pole, tree, etc., and leaves the scene, they should be charged with “Failure to Report an Accident,” not a hit and run. (To be charged with a hit and run, a driver must strike an occupied or attended vehicle.)
- While this does not entitle you to leave the scene, the behavior of the other driver may be a defense to a hit and run charge. If they are acting hostile, violent, or aggressive, you are not required to stay at the scene and may drive to a safe location, within a reasonable distance, and call the police.
- If the other driver does not appear in court to testify against you, the charge may be dismissed.
If you have been in a hit and run in Georgia or have been improperly accused of one, retain the services of an experienced attorney.
What’s the penalty for hit and run a parked car in Georgia? Is it a felony to leave the scene of an accident in Atlanta? If you’ve been involved in a hit and run in Georgia, these questions are probably top of mind right now. Thankfully, we have helped countless clients navigate exceedingly difficult situations like hit and run. Whether it’s a DUI hit and run, insurance question, or failure to report an accident – we are here to help.
Hit and Run Atlanta, GA
For hit and run Atlanta, GA as in other states, there are big consequences for a hit and run. You can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the resulting injuries and property damage. Even if you think no one saw the hit and run happen, there are traffic cameras and the other party may have captured your license plate number. You will most likely be identified at some point. So, if you commit a hit and run, you should contact a skilled defense attorney who can make a case and argue one of the following defenses:
- Involuntary Intoxication – If you were at a bar or party where you were unknowingly drugged and are trying to drive home.
- Response to an Emergency – Drivers who are on their way to the hospital or in the middle of an emergency (e.g. a passenger in labor).
- Ignorance – Though difficult to prove without witness testimony or other evidence, a driver can argue he was unaware of striking a vehicle or person.
In cases such as the above, the court may see reason and you may not face severe penalties for a hit and run Atlanta, GA. Remember that hit and run is a criminal charge, just like aggravated assault and drug offenses. The courts take all of these charges very seriously, so you should not try to take on your hit and run case without an attorney’s guidance.
On the other hand, if you are the victim of a hit and run, you may take civil action and recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff to punish the defendant when they intentionally acted recklessly. Often, the plaintiff is entitled to be compensated for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. A wealthy defendant means they may have to pay more money to “make up” for their conduct. Even if the accident was unintentional, the act of fleeing the scene often justifies punitive damages.
Hit and Run in Georgia Penalty
The hit and run in Georgia penalty is often a fine, restitution, or less than one year of jail time. If you have been charged with a felony hit and run, this means the accident involved serious bodily injury or death and could carry a prison sentence of up to five years.
In addition, the hit and run in Georgia penalty for drivers convicted will often include having their license suspended for a minimum of 120 days. Occasionally, these drivers will be awarded limited privileges in order to get to work, school, etc. Needless to say, it’s best to avoid hit and run penalties by performing all your responsibilities following an accident.
If you are a repeat offender when it comes to hit and runs, harsher penalties await you. Upon the second, third, and subsequent convictions within a five-year period, you may be fined up to $1,000 and subjected to suspension, stay, probation, or imprisonment up to twelve months. Previous pleas of “nolo contendere” (no contest) accepted within this time period will constitute convictions as well.
If you are part of a hit and run and you do not have a valid license, you could be charged with “Driving Without a License.” This could have additional implications if you are not a U.S. citizen or are driving a company vehicle: immigration law enforcement or your employer would likely be notified. For a first-time offense of Driving Without a License, you could spend two days in jail and have to pay a $500 fine. Also, you may lose your license for six months and be subject to reinstatement fees and two defensive driving classes before getting it back. If it is your second offense, you’ll spend a minimum of ten days in jail, be required to pay fines up to $2,500, and receive additional suspension time.
If you are facing a hit and run situation with additional complications like these, contact a trusted lawyer to help you fight for the best possible outcome.
Have you been the victim of a hit and run accident in Georgia? You may be wondering what to do after a hit and run in Atlanta. If you’ve been charged with a hit and run in Georgia or have been the victim, we are here to help. Our law firm is unique, we cover both civil and criminal cases, so we’re able to provide credible assistance no matter your situation.
Legal Options for Victim
There are legal options for victims in hit and run cases. If you are the victim of a hit and run in Georgia, your legal options include:
- Requesting compensation through the negligent driver and/or their insurance company (if they can be identified)
- Restitution for fleeing the scene
- Compensation through your own insurance company (depending on the policy)
- Filing a civil suit against the at-fault driver
For the best outcome, try to remember and document as many details as possible, so that the driver is found. The car’s make and model can be vital in tracking them down. Even if you can only see the state of the license plate, or part of the number, it can be helpful. Details like those can be added to the police report, so everything is properly documented in a timely manner. Without a police report, there are fewer legal options for the victim. You cannot move forward with a hit and run Georgia case without a police report. In order to maximize your chases of winning a civil suit as a hit and run victim, you should seek medical attention (and request copies of the paperwork) and document any damage to automobiles or other property through photos.
Finally, call an attorney to help you take the next steps in filing your claim and receiving compensation for your troubles.
OCGA 40-6-270 is the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, title 40, chapter 6, section 270. It is the section of Georgia law that deals with hit and run.
For more information about your specific type of criminal case in the state of Georgia, please select a page below:
- Atlanta Lawyers
- Georgia Stand Your Ground Law
- Georgia Sex Offender Registry
- Medical Marijuana Laws in Georgia
- Drug Laws Georgia
- Aggravated Assault Georgia
The full text of OCGA 40-6-270 reads as follows:
40-6-270. Hit and run; duty of driver to stop at or return to scene of accident
(a) The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or the death of any person or in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of the accident or shall stop as close thereto as possible and forthwith return to the scene of the accident and shall:
(1) Give his or her name and address and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving;
(2) Upon request and if it is available, exhibit his or her operator’s license to the person struck or the driver or occupant of or person attending any vehicle collided with;
(3) Render to any person injured in such accident reasonable assistance, including the transporting, or the making of arrangements for the transporting, of such person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or if such transporting is requested by the injured person; and
(4) Where a person injured in such accident is unconscious, appears deceased, or is otherwise unable to communicate, make every reasonable effort to ensure that emergency medical services and local law enforcement are contacted for the purpose of reporting the accident and making a request for assistance.
The driver shall in every event remain at the scene of the accident until fulfilling the requirements of this subsection. Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.
(b) If such accident is the proximate cause of death or a serious injury, any person knowingly failing to stop and comply with the requirements of subsection (a) of this Code section shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.
(c)(1) If such accident is the proximate cause of an injury other than a serious injury or if such accident resulted in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person, any person knowingly failing to stop or comply with the requirements of this Code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and:
(A) Upon conviction shall be fined not less than $300.00 nor more than $1,000.00, which fine shall not be subject to suspension, stay, or probation, or imprisoned for up to 12 months, or both;
(B) Upon the second conviction within a five-year period of time, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained to the date of the current arrest for which a conviction is obtained, shall be fined not less than $600.00 nor more than $1,000.00, which fine shall not be subject to suspension, stay, or probation, or imprisoned for up to 12 months, or both; and for purposes of this subparagraph, previous pleas of nolo contendere accepted within such five-year period shall constitute convictions; and
(C) Upon the third or subsequent conviction within a five-year period of time, as measured from the dates of previous arrests for which convictions were obtained to the date of the current arrest for which a conviction is obtained, shall be fined $1,000.00, which fine shall not be subject to suspension, stay, or probation, or imprisoned for up to 12 months, or both; and for purposes of this subparagraph, previous pleas of nolo contendere accepted within such five-year period shall constitute convictions.
(2) For the purpose of imposing a sentence under this subsection, a plea of nolo contendere shall constitute a conviction.
(3) If the payment of the fine required under this subsection will impose an economic hardship on the defendant, the judge, at his sole discretion, may order the defendant to pay such fine in installments and such order may be enforced through a contempt proceeding or a revocation of any probation otherwise authorized by this Code section.
(d) Notwithstanding the limits set forth in any municipal charter, any municipal court of any municipality shall be authorized to impose the punishments provided for in this Code section upon a conviction of violating this Code section or upon conviction of violating any ordinance adopting the provisions of this Code section.