Hit and run cases are no joking matter. For any person who owns a vehicle in Las Vegas, being charged with a hit and run puts him or her at risk of permanently losing his license to drive in the state. As any Las Vegas criminal defense attorney would say, even a minor hit and run call can be enough to tarnish a person’s reputation as a driver, and could lead to more serious traffic cases in the future.
Those who have just obtained their driving license in the city or planning to obtain one should remember that the State of Nevada is very strict about their traffic accident laws. Along with guidelines and penalties regarding DUI, reckless road behavior, over-speeding, and other related offenses on the road, the State takes its rules about hit and run cases seriously. Below are some points that drivers in Las Vegas in should know.
So says the law
People from outside the state, like tourists or other short term visitors, as well as local residents that are not very aware of state law may think that evading conviction for a hit and run, no matter how minor the damage was done, would be easy. These same people would be hard pressed to find that recent legislation has given stricter penalties for leaving the scene of a road accident.
- Nevada’s amended law concerning hit and run cases and convictions has been in effect for over eight months now. Any driver who was proven to be at fault by failing to report the collision or outright fleeing the scene without even exchanging information can expect heftier penalties to be handed to them by Nevada courts. The new legislation was envisioned to convict hit and run offenders on the same level as a DUI charge, whether they were drunk at the time of the accident or not.
- The new law basically treats any person caught leaving the scene of the accident as driving under the influence. This means that should the accused driver be taken into custody, he or she can expect to face penalties similar to a DUI, like a maximum of 20 years in a prison like the Clark County Detention Center (CCDC) and hefty fines. The highest penalties are handed if the accident resulted in bodily harm and the offender failed to provide aid to any injured on the scene.
As stated in the previous section, the latest change in Nevada’s road laws have imposed even tougher penalties on people who have committed a hit and run. Whether the accused chose to flee the scene without reporting the incident due to being under the influence or due to fear, he or she can expect a nasty surprise in the form of an arrest and possible convictions. On top of that, however, offending drivers can expect other legal problems after being arrested.
- People accused of committing a hit and run can expect to face not only criminal and administrative cases, but civil lawsuits as well in the event that people were hurt in the accident. Civil lawsuits can be filed separately by the relatives of the victims or by the victims themselves, netting a separate set of fines and other legal obligations that the defendant will have to face if he is convicted. Fines are often doubled or tripled if the court proves that the defendant was responsible for the accident, on top of the damage done to private and/or public property.
- For some people, being involved as a defendant in a hit and run case can often lead to a cancellation of insurance policies for their car if he or she is convicted or at least confirmed to be at fault during the accident. While not as serious as the stated civil lawsuits above, it can still add up to all the legal and financial troubles one can face after a hit and run trial.
On Defending Against Hit and Run Charges
Hit and run charges are more difficult to avoid now due to the revamped legislation. This does not mean, however, that drivers are completely defenseless against severe convictions, especially when they have an understanding of the legal implications of their case.
- One of the commonly used angles in defending against a hit and run conviction is the possibility that the defendant had no knowledge that he or she has committed a hit and run. With this defense, the court may find it difficult to prove that the defendant willfully avoided providing aid or exchanging information with the other driver because the defendant does not even know that he or she committed an offense in the first place. This does not make the defendant immune to a reckless driving charge, however.
- As is typical for these cases, defendants can fall back on plea bargains to lessen the impact of a possible conviction. If the plea bargain pushes through, the defendant may only be charged with reckless driving, and may be required to pay fines, attend a refresher course on proper driving behavior, and temporarily have his or her licensed suspended. This is usually a better outcome than having to face jail time due to a hit and run conviction.
Being convicted for hit and run is a serious thing that will have a major negative impact on anyone beyond his or her driving experience. Ideally, it is best to observe the rules of the road and be mindful of other drivers. If facing any charges, get in touch with a defense lawyer immediately.
Hit and Run in Las Vegas