Hit and Run – Is it a Felony or Misdemeanor?
As with most legal questions, the answer is “it depends.” Hardly anything is cut and dry in law but understand that a hit and run can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. Further, the effect on your driver’s license is highly dependent upon which police department is issuing the ticket. Let’s take a closer look at hit and runs in Missouri.
Hit and Run in The Law
Hit and runs are referred to as “leaving the scene of an accident” under Missouri statute. Under section 577.060 of the revised statutes of Missouri,
A person commits the offense of leaving the scene of an accident when:
(1) Being the operator of a vehicle or a vessel involved in an accident resulting in injury or death or damage to property of another person; and
(2) Having knowledge of such accident he or she leaves the place of the injury, damage or accident without stopping and giving the following information to the other party or to a law enforcement officer, or if no law enforcement officer is in the vicinity, then to the nearest law enforcement agency:
(a) His or her name;
(b) His or her residence, including city and street number;
(c) The registration or license number for his or her vehicle or vessel; and
(d) His or her operator’s license number, if any.
In subsection C, it’s interesting to note that the statute includes ‘vessel,’ so boating accidents fall under this law as well.
So, is this a felony or a misdemeanor? Well, it depends on the severity of any injuries or damage that was caused, or if the suspect was a repeat offender. The offense can be a class E felony if there was either, property damages of more than $1,000, physical injury to the other party, or this was a second offense for the defendant. A class E felony is punishable by up to four years in the department of corrections and a fine of up to $10,000 dollars. If the damage was under the $1,000 threshold for damage, there was no injury to someone else, and it was the first offense, then the hit and run will result in a class A misdemeanor. A class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, it is doubtful you will have to serve jail time for a first offense, especially if it was rather minor and you have a light criminal history. Keep in mind, there could be other charges filed for the driving that lead to the accident, such as careless and imprudent driving, or driving while intoxicated.
Impact on Driving Record
If you are issued a ticket for a “hit and run”, your driving record will see a substantial hit. Either 6 or 12 points depending on whether you are charged with violating a municipal law or State law. If issued a municipal ticket, then a conviction would result in six points on your license, but if charged with a violation of the State law, a conviction will result in twelve points on your license.
This is a significant offense and should not be taken lightly. It is important to note how much damage this can do to your Missouri driver’s record. An assessment of 12 points is the most points you can receive for a single driving-related offense. In fact, a Missouri driver will get their driver’s license revoked for a year if he or she gets 12 points in a one-year period, or 18 points or more in 24 months.
Either way, 6 or 12 points on your license puts you at a severe disadvantage and will negatively affect your driving record in the future. Just like other accidents, we recommend that if you were in a wreck and the other driver cannot be located because they took off, you try to determine if there were any witnesses. If so, get statements and their information. Take pictures of the scene and of the damage sustained to your vehicle, write down the details of how the accident happened, and call the police and your insurance company to make a report that you were a victim of a hit and run. If you leave without making a report, you may end up being wrongfully accused of a hit and run accident.
Always consult with an attorney and get legal advice before making any statements discussing liability or signing any documents that your insurance company requests that you sign. Do not admit liability or to breaking any driver laws while making a report to the police.