Complete Guide to Georgia's Hit-and-Run Law

Georgia Code §40-6-270: Hit and run; duty of driver to stop at or return to scene of accident

In Georgia, if, while you are driving your vehicle, you are involved in a collision, you must stop and/or return to the scene of the accident. You must stop if:

  • You were involved in an accident that resulted in injury to any person
  • You were involved in an accident that resulted in death to any person
  • You were involved in an accident that resulted in damage to another vehicle

Once stopped at the scene of the accident, the driver has the responsibility to:

  • Give their name, address, and vehicle registration number
  • Show operator’s license
  • Render reasonable assistance
  • Remain at the scene
  • Avoid obstructing traffic as much as possible

The exact phrasing of the Georgia Code §40-6-270 reads:

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.

Why People Leave the Scene of Accidents

The BRSI recently conducted a study of hit and run drivers in which they evaluated 853 offenders.

  • 86% of hit and run drivers were male, 14% female
  • Over half of hit and run drivers were 25 years old or younger
  • A majority of drivers who fled the scene caused property damage only – 74%, while 11% involved injury to another and 1% were fatal
  • 42% of drivers who fled the scene were under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • 16% of hit and run drivers either did not have an adequate driver’s license or insurance

Although not conclusive, this suggests a number of reasons why drivers might flee the scene:

  • Inexperience
  • They did not think the damage was a big enough deal to stop
  • Inebriation / incapable of making the proper decision
  • They feared police finding out about their lack of a driver’s license or proper insurance

Some believe it comes down to a lack of empathy, others suggest that the fear of arrest causes empathy to take a backseat, but human psychology suggests reasons far more complex and diverse.

Hit and Run Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatal hit and run crashes are trending upward. From 2009 to 2011, hit and runs that resulted in fatalities increased by 175. This is even more shocking when you consider that, during that same period, overall traffic deaths decreased by 1,516. In well over half of these cases, the victim is a pedestrian.

Failure to Stop at the Scene of an Accident

Anyone who fails to comply with this section and who causes the serious injury or death of another person is guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment for a minimum of one year and up to five years. If an individual fails to stop at the scene of an accident that causes a non-serious injury to another, they are guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $300-$1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months.

Second and Subsequent Convictions

There are additional penalties for those convicted of second or subsequent offenses within five years.

  • 2nd within 5 years - $600-$1,000 fine and/or imprisonment up to 12 months
  • 3rd or subsequent within 5 years - $1,000 fine and/or imprisonment up to 12 months

Defense for Hit and Run Charges

Everyone facing criminal charges is entitled to due process under the law. They have the right to a fair trial and the right to an attorney. Anyone accused of hit and run is encouraged to contact a defense attorney as soon as possible. Having a lawyer present during questioning can protect against self-incrimination, and having an experienced defense attorney in your corner can increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

Categories: Traffic Offenses
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