When Does a Car Accident Become a Criminal Offense?

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Car accidents are many things — unexpected, dangerous, frightening. Did you know that in certain circumstances, a car accident might also be criminal? It’s important to understand the difference between non-criminal and criminal auto collisions, so that you can avoid finding yourself in such a situation in the future. Here’s what you should know about car accidents and the law.

Common Criminal Car Accidents

By and large, there are three scenarios you need to keep in mind that would cross a crash from accident territory into criminal territory, the first being the Hit & Run.

If you didn’t already know, a hit and run accident is when you are directly involved in a collision, but leave the scene before exchanging insurance information with the other driver. This can be either a misdemeanor or a felony in most states, with the threshold between the two depending on the total amount of damages and whether or not someone was injured in the accident.

For lower-level hit and run offenses, there may be a small fine or even some light jail time. For more serious hit and run charges, however, you can receive a potential prison sentence, which may vary based on your state.

A car accident might be considered criminal if it falls under the category of reckless driving. Reckless driving goes beyond negligence — if you’re driving without any regard for anyone else’s safety and you collide with another vehicle, it’s considered reckless driving — and it can come with significant penalties.

Finally, drunk driving collisions can often be considered criminal, according to Moorhead Law Group, felony DUI lawyers in Boulder. This is exactly as it sounds — if you’re operating your vehicle while you’re intoxicated or impaired, then get into a crash, that crash will be classified as a crime and you’ll need an aggressive criminal defense lawyer to help deal with the consequences.

While those three are the major categories of criminal car accidents across the nation, there are a few other instances you might also want to be aware of, depending on the state you live in. If you’re driving while you’re distracted (texting or operating your phone) and get into a crash, some regions might classify the accident as a criminal offense.

It’s also against the law to drive without valid vehicle insurance, so if you get into a crash and you aren’t insured, your actions might carry some heavy criminal punishments such as fines, jail time, or a license suspension.