Learn about Virginia Hit & Run Laws.

In Virginia, a charge of Hit & Run can be very serious.  The most common questions we get about hit and run deal with the reporting duties after you’ve been involved in an accident.  The Virginia Code provides different rules depending on whether you hit unattended property versus an occupied vehicle. 

What if you hit attended property (someone was in the car)?

The rules for being involved in an accident with attended  property can be found at Virginia Code Section 46.2-894. That section says:

The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident in which a person is killed or injured or in which an attended vehicle or other attended property is damaged shall immediately stop as close to the scene of the accident as possible without obstructing traffic, as provided in § 46.2-888, and report his name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration number forthwith to the State Police or local law-enforcement agency, to the person struck and injured if such person appears to be capable of understanding and retaining the information, or to the driver or some other occupant of the vehicle collided with or to the custodian of other damaged property. The driver shall also render reasonable assistance to any person injured in such accident, including taking such injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital if it is apparent that medical treatment is necessary or is requested by the injured person.[1]

Stated another way, if you’re involved in an accident where property is attended or someone is injured you must:

1) Stop as close to the accident as possible without obstructing traffic;

2) Call the police and report the accident;

3) Give your information to the other person (or an occupant of their vehicle); and

4) If the person is hurt, provide them reasonable assistance. 

What if you violate this section?

If a person is injured or killed (or the accident results in more than $1,000), it’s a Class V felony in Virginia.  If the accident results in only property damage of $1000 or less, it’s a Class I Misdemeanor. 

What if you hit unattended property?

Virginia Code Section 46.2-896 deals with hitting unattended property.  That section provides:

The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident in which no person is killed or injured, but in which an unattended vehicle or other unattended property is damaged, shall make a reasonable effort to find the owner or custodian of such property and shall report to the owner or custodian the information which the driver is required to report pursuant to § 46.2-894 if such owner or custodian is found. If the owner or custodian of such damaged vehicle or property cannot be found, the driver shall leave a note or other sufficient information including driver identification and contact information in a conspicuous place at the scene of the accident and shall report the accident in writing within 24 hours to the State Police or the local law-enforcement agency. Such note or other information and written report shall contain the information that the driver is required to report pursuant to § 46.2-894. The written report shall, in addition, state the date, time, and place of the accident and the driver’s description of the property damage.[2]

Stated another way, when you hit unattended property, you must:

1) Make reasonable effort to find the owner and report the damage;

2) If the owner can't be found, leave a note with your information on it; and

3) Within 24 hours, report the accident to the appropriate law enforcement.

What is the punishment for hit and run of unattended property?

Virginia Code Section 46.2-900 provides that if the property damage is $250 or more, the punishment is a Class I misdemeanor.  However, if the damage is less than $250, it’s a class IV misdemeanor.  It also provides for 3 demerit points with the Virginia DMV.

Conclusion

Look Virginia treats Hit and Run very seriously in an effort to protect the public against dangerous behavior.  If you're involved in an accident, don't make things worse by trying to flee the scene.  You can be sure that they will try to find you, and where the issue may have been resolved by a simple call to the police and your insurance company, instead you could end up with a serious criminal record.  

If you have any question about Virginia Hit and Run charges, feel free to call BenGlassLaw at 703-591-9829.  

 

 

[1] If you’re injured in the accident, and thus prevented from meeting these requirements, the code provides a reasonableness requirement of making a reasonable effort to locate the struck person and notifying law enforcement.

[2] The code section provides an exception where a driver is prevented from reporting the accident due to injury from the accident.  In this case, the driver is to make reasonable efforts to report and find the custodian of the property.