Hit and Run - Washington State

Hit & Run - Attended and Unattended

There are two different types of Hit and Run Charges in Washington State:  Hit and Run “Attended” and Hit and Run “Unattended” both laws apply to vehicle, pedestrian, and property accidents and is considered a criminal offense.

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Hit and Run - Attended

In Washington State, leaving the scene of an accident involving a pedestrian or a person in another vehicle may result in the person being charged with “hit and run attended,” a criminal offense. Drivers have a duty to stop after a collision involving another person, to remain at the scene, to render any aid needed, and to exchange contact and insurance information.

Hit and Run - Unattended

In Washington State, when a driver knowingly collides with another vehicle or property, the driver must stop and notify the vehicle or property owner of the collision. With a parked car or property, this may be done by simply posting a note in a conspicuous place providing the colliding driver’s contact and insurance information. Any driver that knowingly collides with another vehicle or property, such as a fence, landscaping, or other property must leave such written notice in a conspicuous place.

Felony Hit and Run

The crime of felony hit and run attended may be charged if a driver:

  • is in an accident,
  • knows he or she was in an accident,
  • failed to remain and render any necessary aid and provide contact information, and
  • the accident resulted in injury or death to any person.

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Penalties

Hit and Run - Attended

Penalties

The penalties for a gross misdemeanor hit and run attended conviction include up to:

  • $5,000.00 in fines
  • 364 days in jail
  • 1-year license suspension

When an accident becomes a hit and run

A person may be charged with “hit and run attended,” when:

  • They drive a vehicle that is in an accident,
  • The accident results in the injury or death of another person
  • The resulting damage to a vehicle attended by another person, and the driver knew he or she had been in an accident but failed to:
    • render aid
    • remain at the scene, and provide their contact information
    • provide their contact information

A driver is relieved of these duties if the accident caused them to suffer serious injury or incapacitation. The driver is also not responsible if they had no knowledge that an impact occurred with another vehicle.

Hit and Run - Unattended

Penalties

Hit and run unattended is a simple misdemeanor, punishable by:

  • $1,000.00 in fines
  • 90 days in jail

There is no license suspension for an unattended hit and run conviction.

When an accident becomes a hit and run Unattended

The crime of “hit and run unattended” may be charged when the person:

  • Drove a vehicle that collided with an unattended vehicle or other property, resulting in damage and:
  • The accident results in the injury or death of another person
  • The driver knew he or she had collided with a vehicle or other property but failed to:
    • stop immediately and provide their contact information
    • or leave a note providing that information in a conspicuous place for the vehicle or property owner.

Often, a hit and run unattended is handled by a civil “compromise of misdemeanor” which allows the charge to be dismissed provided the victim of the crime signs a notarized document that they have been reimbursed for their damages by the driver and/or the driver’s insurance agency.

Felony Hit and Run

Penalties

A Felony Hit and Run Attended conviction is a Class B Felony, punishable by:

  • $20,000.00 in fines
  • Up to 10 years in prison

If an accident involving injury results in a felony hit and run attended conviction it is a class C felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

When an accident becomes a Felony Hit and run

The crime of “felony hit and run” may be charged when the person:

  • If the result of the accident involves a fatality
  • If the accident resulted in an injury, it is a Class C Felony and punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison and a $10,000.00 fine.
  • The driver knew he or she had collided with a vehicle or other property but failed to:
    • stop immediately and provide their contact information
    • or leave a note providing that information in a conspicuous place for the vehicle or property owner.

Hit & Run - Laws

The law in Washington on Hit and Run Attended is a blend of legislation and court decisions. The Revised Code of Washington, RCW 46.52.020, defines the crime and several Washington State court cases have interpreted the statute. If the prosecutor’s charging document references only the statutory language and does not incorporate the caselaw element of knowledge, it may be defective. An attorney knowledgeable in defending hit and run charges, who understands the statute and case law is the key to your defense.

What to Do After a Hit and Run?

After any accident occurs, whether it involves an unattended vehicle or property, or an attended vehicle (one with a person inside), Washington State drivers are required to follow certain procedures.

If a driver hits an unattended car or other property, he or she must:

  1. Stop right away and attempt to locate and notify the owner.
  2. If the owner cannot be found, the driver must leave a note with his or her name, contact, and any other required information in a conspicuous place on the vehicle or property.

If a driver hits a car that is “attended,” that is, occupied by people, the driver must:

  1. stop right away and exchange contact, driver license, and insurance information with the driver or occupant of the other vehicle.

Injury or Death

If a driver is in an accident that causes injury or death to another person, he or she must:

  1. Stop the vehicle immediately, making sure not to obstruct traffic any more than is necessary.
  2. The driver must offer assistance to the injured parties, such as calling 911, or taking them to the hospital or a physician. Helping an injured person is not considered evidence of liability for the accident.
  3. The driver must also give his or her name, address, insurance company, policy number, and license number to as all injured parties, as well as the driver of the other vehicle.

If a driver fails to stop after causing another person’s death, he or she may be charged with a class B felony Hit and Run Attended. Leaving the scene of an accident if a person is injured is classified as a class C felony. Both crimes are punished with prison time and fines.

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Linda M. Callahan

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Disclaimer: The legal information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. Any results set forth herein are based upon the facts of that particular case and do not represent a promise or guarantee.  This web site is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the state of Washington.

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