No matter your age, minor or adult, as a driver of a motor vehicle you are required, by law, to remain on the scene of an accident. This applies in every state and is especially true if you strike someone with your vehicle and injure them. Leaving the accident scene is considered a hit-and-run violation and fleeing without rendering aid to the victim is a serious crime.
The penalties for a minor found guilty of a hit-and-run accident can be quite severe in South Carolina and should not be taken for granted, simply because you’re a minor. In fact, there’s a statute for anything you hit – from a fixture on or alongside the highway, to a parked car, to a pedestrian crossing the street.
In all cases, you’re expected to stay put after notifying the owner or calling 911 for a police or emergency aid response. Failure to do so could result in you being sought by law enforcement authorities – aggravating the situation – thereby, increasing the severity of your potential punishment.
So you have a better idea of what could lie ahead should you opt to flee the scene of an accident, below are some of the laws that could impact your future, including your car insurance rates:
Under South Carolina law:
- A driver who strikes a fixture on or adjacent the highway must take reasonable steps to notify the owner and provide identifying information to the owner. Failure to do this can result in a misdemeanor conviction.
- A driver who strikes an unattended vehicle must first try to locate the owner. If the owner cannot be located, the driver must leave a note in a conspicuous area of the vehicle, with his name, address, contact information, and vehicle registration information. Failure to do this is a misdemeanor.
- A driver who strikes an attended vehicle is required to stop as close as possible to the collision scene as is safe. If the vehicle can be moved off the road to prevent congestion of traffic, the driver is permitted to do so. The driver is only permitted to leave the scene of the accident temporarily to report it to law enforcement. Failure to comply with this is a misdemeanor.
- A driver who strikes a vehicle or person causing injury or death, is required to stop and remain on the scene when a collision occurs that results in bodily injury or death to another. Leaving the scene, except to report the incident to law enforcement or call 911, is a misdemeanor in the event injury is involved – or a felony, if great bodily injury or death is involved.
- If the infraction is a misdemeanor that results in a conviction, the minor driver can face jail time, ranging from a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of up to a year. The fine imposed could run anywhere between $100 and $5000;
- If the infraction results in a felony conviction, due to great bodily injury but death has not occurred, the minor driver could face a prison sentence of 1 to 10 years and a fine of between $5,000 and $10,000;
- If a guilty verdict for a felony conviction involving a death is rendered, the minor driver could face a prison term of between 1 and 25 years as well as a fine of $10,000 to $25,000.
- In addition, all misdemeanor convictions also include suspension of the minor’s driving privileges. However, a felony conviction could result in complete revocation of the minor’s driving privileges.
Any way you look at it, not doing the right thing can jeopardize your future. So do be a responsible driver and, as Spike Lee says, “Do the right thing” when involved in an auto accident – we’re sure you’ll be glad you did.