You’re driving home late at night, eager to get into bed. Then suddenly, you’re in an accident.
You’re not sure whether you closed your eyes for a minute, or maybe just weren’t paying as close attention as you thought you were. Either way, you’ve hit another car.
Panic sets in and, even though you know you should stop, you don’t. There’s probably no damage anyway, you think. You’ve just committed a hit and run in SC.
If this has happened to you, you’re considered a hit-and-run driver. By definition, a hit and run is…
Any accident in which you fail to stop at the scene or you leave the scene of the accident after stopping but before resolving the issue
If you’re involved in an accident of any kind, stopping will eliminate the possibility of being charged with a hit and run. If the time has already passed, however, the only way to handle your hit and run is to deal with your charges in court.
The Basics of Hit and Run Charges in SC
Any hit and run charge in South Carolina will come with consequences. Your penalty will depend on whether or not someone was injured in the collision, and if someone was injured, how badly he or she was hurt.
The victim’s injuries resulting from accidents fall into three different categories:
|Injury results||Classification used if the accident results in a minor injury.|
|Great Bodily Injury results||
Classification used if the accident results in an injury that:
(1) Creates a risk of death
(2) Causes disfigurement
(3) Results in loss of bodily or organ function
|Death results||Classification used if someone dies as a result of the accident|
You don’t have to hit another car for an accident to be considered a hit and run. Many hit and run accidents involve someone hitting a person on a bike, a pedestrian, or someone on a scooter. These accidents can all be hit and runs if you leave the scene.
To avoid a hit and run charge, you have to stay on the scene and meet a certain set of requirements, including contacting the sheriff’s office or highway patrol. The specific requirements depend on the type of accident.
Here are the 4 types of accidents:
|Resulting in injury or death||
Driver must notify police department immediately.
Driver must give name, address and vehicle registration number to the person who was struck.
Driver must show his driver’s license to the person struck.
Driver must provide help to the person struck.
If the accident wasn’t investigated by the police, driver must send a written report of the accident and verification of insurance to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
|Resulting in damage to a vehicle||
Driver must give name, address and vehicle registration number to the driver of the vehicle that was struck.
Driver must show his driver’s license to the driver of the vehicle that was struck.
Driver must provide help to the driver of the vehicle that was struck if the driver needs help.
|Involving an unattended vehicle||
Driver must make attempt to notify the owner of the vehicle.
Driver must give name, address and vehicle registration number to the owner of the vehicle.
Driver must provide driver’s license if requested.
|Involving the hitting of a fixed object||
Driver must make attempt to notify the owner of the object.
Driver must give name, address and vehicle registration number to the owner of the object.
Driver must provide driver’s license if requested.
If you don’t stop at the scene of the car accident and complete the required steps to take responsibility for it, you will face consequences which can include a fine, a jail or prison term, or both.
Penalties for Hit and Run Convictions in SC
Just as the requirements for what you must do after an accident depend on the harm that results, the penalty for a conviction also depends on what type of harm results.
Accident resulting in injury to the victim:
Prison for 30 days to 1 year
Fine of $100 to $5,000
*can receive both
Accident resulting in great bodily injury to the victim:
Prison for 30 days to 10 years
Fine of $5,000 to $10,000
*will receive both
Accident resulting in death to the victim:
Prison for 1 year to 35 years
Fine of $10,000 to $25,000
*will receive both
Common Questions About Hit & Run Charges in SC
What is the definition of a “hit and run”?
As mentioned above, a hit and run is any accident in which you don’t stop at the scene or you leave the scene early (often before law enforcement arrives). You don’t have to have hit another car for an accident to be considered a hit and run. If you hit a person, a motorcycle, or any other object, you’ve been in a hit and run.
Can I be charged with hit and run if I hit a parked car?
Yes. If you hit a parked car and a person inside is injured, you can absolutely be charged with a hit and run. If you hit an empty parked car, you may have some financial responsibility for property damages.
What is the penalty for hit and run?
Your penalty will depend on how badly you hurt the person you hit. These injuries fall into three categories: injury, great bodily injury and death.
“Injury” means any type of injury, however slight.
“Great bodily injury” means you have hurt the person badly enough that you almost killed him or her, you caused a permanent injury, or you damaged their organs or other bodily functions.
Consequences range from fines to lengthy prison terms. If you cause great bodily injury or death, you will receive prison time AND a fine every time.
Is hit and run a felony?
A hit and run is a felony if you cause great bodily injury or death.
Is hit and run a misdemeanor?
The lowest level of a hit and run charge is a misdemeanor. You will be charged with a misdemeanor if you injury the person but don’t cause great bodily injury or death.
Can I be charged with hit and run if there is no damage?
If you didn’t cause any injury, you likely won’t be convicted of a hit and run. In many cases, however, you’ll still be charged because you were in a motor vehicle accident and drove away. When you are charged and there was no injury at all, your lawyer will fight for you and try to get the charges dismissed.
Do I need a lawyer if I’m charged with hit and run?
Absolutely. Penalties for hit and run accidents include serious prison terms and large fines. You can also face serious charges—particularly if someone was hurt or killed. If you are convicted of a hit and run, it will show up on your background check, which could impact your current employment, stop you from getting a job or getting into college in the future or cause your insurance company to stop your coverage.
It’s important to try to avoid hit and run accidents whenever you can. If you’re driving and have an accident, calm down and pull over. Whatever happens will be better than what would have happened if you had driven off.
Getting Help With Your Case.
If you’ve already been involved in a hit and run, consider lawyer who will create a defense that’s in your best interest. If you’re ready to speak with an attorney, call (843) 488-5000 to discuss your hit and run charges.