Know Your Rights: Hit-and-Run Laws in Georgia
Have you been a victim of a hit and run in Georgia? Many drivers and bikers simply aren't aware of the rights that they have under the state's laws.
Unfortunately, this is extremely common for motorcycle drivers: Due to a combination of blind spots, weather and size, cars have been known to bump against motorcyclists, cause an accident and drive away. These types of accidents can cause serious injury to bikers or even be fatal. So, what are the consequences of doing this, and do motorcyclists in Atlanta and elsewhere in the state have the protection they need to prosecute those perpetrators?
What are the hit-and-run laws in Georgia?
O.C.G.A. Section 40-6-270 is the Georgia main hit-and-run law. As with most states in the US, leaving the scene of an accident can come with some severe consequences. Here is some basic information about our state's law:
- Leaving the scene of an accident is a major traffic violation. This puts this crime on essentially the same level as driving under the influence, street racing and eluding an officer.
- If the victim dies or is seriously injured, it's a felony. This can lead to a year to five years of imprisonment. If someone doesn't die or is seriously injured, drivers can still face $1,000 fines or up to a year in prison.
- Hit-and-run drivers face license suspension. Section 40-6-270 is one of several offenses that may lead to the DDS suspending your license and driving privileges.
- It still affects young drivers. For individuals under 21 years of age, there are still mandatory suspensions for leaving the scene of an accident. That means that, in Georgia, hit-and-run license suspension can still apply to younger drivers.
- You can be labeled as a "habitual violator." If you do a hit and run in GA, it's essentially like having one strike. If, within the next five years, you get two more strikes (by driving drunk, accidental homicide by vehicle, racing on the highways or eluding an officer, for instance), you will be labeled as a "habitual violator" and may have your license suspended along with more severe consequences.
What are the basics of Georgia's hit-and-run law in plain language?
When you get into an accident, you are legally required to do the following (in plain language) in the state of Georgia:
- Stop at the scene of the accident without obstructing traffic more than necessary.
- Provide your name, address and registration number.
- Exhibit your license to the other driver.
- Arrange the transport of the injured person to a hospital, physician or surgeon.
- Make "every reasonable effort" to ensure EMS services are contacted when a person is injured, unconscious or appears to be dead.
The only exceptions (under Section 40-6-274) are situations that do not lead to personal injury, injury to a second party, property damage, or second-party property damage.
The driver is legally required to take these actions in the situation of an accident, and not doing any of these steps is a potential hit-and-run. Atlanta drivers, for instance, can't just "wave and ask if it's okay" before speeding back along into traffic. These steps must be taken, legally.
What other laws are important to know in hit-and-run situations?
Those who may have committed this crime will often want to connect with a local hit-and-run attorney. Atlanta, GA, is full of hit-and-run accidents, and many of the people who get caught face some tough charges. An attorney in this situation will typically aim to talk the case down to a less serious charge. In this case, that would be O.C.G.A. Section 40-6-272 (duty upon striking an unattended vehicle) or O.C.G.A. Section 40-6-273 (duty to report an accident). These are still major traffic offenses, but they have less severe consequences, like smaller fines and misdemeanors rather than felonies.
If someone has been the victim of a hit-and-run, what should they do?
Get a lawyer. It's extremely important to have representation when potentially discussing a hit-and-run felony. Georgia judges take this crime seriously, so serious evidence and representation is a must. A person in this situation is often shaken up, easy to be cajoled, to make excuses for the other driver or may not even have the wherewithal to realize what exactly happened in the few minutes after they were hit, let alone the ability to find all the evidence needed.
It's so important to know your rights in the state of Georgia and have someone in your corner to gather the evidence. It's so important to ask for help when you maybe experiencing the lifelong consequences of a hit and run. Don't give up, because you don't always know that this is their first time doing this; having multiple marks on your record will make the court take every instance a bit more seriously!
If you're a Georgian motorcyclist who may be a victim of a hit and run, contact us today.