Leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident is a very serious violation in New Jersey which is punishable by loss of your license and even jail time. Additional penalties include DMV points, a permanent record, and hefty fines. An experienced defense attorney can often mitigate these consequences or help you avoid them altogether. Founding attorney, Will Proetta has successfully defended thousands of municipal court charges and motor vehicle tickets for clients over the years including leaving the scene of an accident. Proetta & Oliver represents clients throughout New Jersey, including Union Township, Linden, Roselle Park, Elizabeth, Clark, Rahway and Fanwood. We are often able to get leaving the scene of an accident charges dismissed for our clients so that they can avoid a suspension of their license and points on their record. If you or a loved one has been charged or arrested for leaving the scene of an accident, contact our office at (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation with an experienced defense attorney.
New Jersey Leaving the Scene of an Accident Statute N.J.S.A. 39:4-129
A charge for leaving the scene of an accident in New Jersey can be a motor vehicle violation or as a criminal violation depending on the circumstances. The motor vehicle statute N.J.S.A. 39:4-129, which governs leaving the scene of an accident in New Jersey is provided below in pertinent part:
(a) The driver of any vehicle, knowingly involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close thereto as possible. Any person who shall violate this subsection shall be fined not less than $2,500 nor more than $5,000, or be imprisoned for a period of 180 days, or both.
In addition, any person convicted under this subsection shall forfeit his right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State for a period of one year from the date of his conviction for the first offense and for a subsequent offense shall thereafter permanently forfeit his right to operate a motor vehicle over the highways of this State.
(b) The driver of any vehicle knowingly involved in an accident resulting only in damage to a vehicle, including his own vehicle, or other property which is attended by any person shall immediately stop his vehicle at the scene of such accident or as close thereto as possible. Any person who shall violate this subsection shall be fined not less than $200 nor more than $400, or be imprisoned for a period of not more than 30 days, or both, for the first offense, and for a subsequent offense, shall be fined not less than $400 nor more than $600, or be imprisoned for a period of not less than 30 days nor more than 90 days or both.
In addition, a person who violates this subsection shall, for a first offense, forfeit the right to operate a motor vehicle in this State for a period of six months from the date of conviction, and for a period of one year from the date of conviction for any subsequent offense.
Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in New Jersey
The most serious penalty that can be imposed for leaving the scene of an accident in New Jersey is probably prison or jail time, with the classification of the charge as either a criminal offense or a traffic offense typically determining the penalty.
NJ 39:4-129 Penalty
For a leaving the scene charge classified as a motor vehicle offense, the penalties are determined by the facts of the case and the driving record of the defendant. For example, if the accident only resulted in property damage or minor injuries, and this was the defendant’s first such violation, then the penalties may include a sentence of up to 30 days in jail, two (2) points assigned to their driver’s license, license suspension for up to six (6) months, and a $200 to $400 fine. However, if this was the defendant’s second traffic ticket for leaving the scene of an accident, then the penalties increase and may include a sentence of up to 90 days in jail, driver’s license suspension for up to one (1) year, and a $400 to $600 fine. Lastly, those charged with 39:4-129 offenses causing personal injury or death, penalties include a $2,500 to $5,000 fine, 180 days in jail, a one (1) year license suspension, and permanent license forfeiture for a second offense.
NJ 2C:12-1.1 Consequences
For a leaving the scene charge classified as a criminal offense, the grading of the charge is what dictates the possible penalties, including the length of any prison sentence. In New Jersey, leaving the scene of an accident is a third degree indictable offense (felony), which means that the range of prison time if convicted is three (3) to five (5) years. Although most non-violent third degree crimes in NJ do not carry a presumption of incarceration, it is important to note that leaving the scene of an accident is treated differently under the law.
In fact, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.1 specifically states that “the presumption of non-imprisonment set forth [elsewhere in the criminal code] shall not apply to persons convicted under the provisions of this section.” This means that anyone charged with a criminal offense for leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury will be subject to a mandatory prison term upon conviction, even if this was the first time the defendant has ever gotten in trouble with the law. With help from a diligent and experienced criminal lawyer, however, you may be able to avoid the mandatory imprisonment.
In addition to a possible prison sentence, other penalties for a criminal charge for leaving the scene include a fine of $15,000, 8 points assigned to your driver’s license, license suspension, and surcharges from the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC). The length of the driver’s license suspension imposed by the court can vary, depending on whether the defendant has any prior convictions for leaving the scene of an accident. If this was the defendant’s first offense, their license may be suspended for a period of one (1) year; if this was the defendant’s second offense, they may be subject to a permanent suspension of their driver’s license.
Scotch Plains NJ Leaving the Scene of an Accident Defense Attorney
As illustrated above, the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident can severe and complicated depending on the alleged circumstances of the accident. Accidents can happen in countless different ways, the damage can vary from a few dollars to tens of thousands, and the fault of crash can often be at issue. A large portion of our clients never even realized they hit another vehicle, others simply think because there is little or no damage it is okay to leave, while some people just panic and make a split second decision to drive away. No matter what the circumstances of your leaving the scene of an accident are, we will address it and aggressively defend your case and seek a dismissal of your charges. So contact us today at (908) 838-0150 to speak with an experienced leaving the scene of an accident lawyer who can answer your questions and address your concerns during a free initial consultation. We have representatives available 24/7 to answer your calls.
Additional Information for New Jersey Traffic Offenses
Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. We have office locations conveniently located in Jersey City, Edison, Middletown, Cranford, Burlington, and Hamilton. All major credit cards are accepted