Should I Turn Myself In After a Hit and Run?

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The question of should I turn myself in after a hit and run can be difficult to answer. Some part of you may hope you get away with it and that you don’t have to face the potential civil and criminal charges associated with hitting and running. Still, it is usually a good idea to turn yourself in after a hit and run before the police find you.

Why Turn Yourself In

In addition to civil liability for the damage you caused from the accident, you also face potential criminal charges. While the laws vary by state, generally:

  • A hit and run in which a person was injured can lead to misdemeanor charges with penalties of a fine and up to 1-2 years in prison
  • A hit and run in which a person was killed can lead to felony charges with more severe penalties and a minimum of 1 year or more in prison
  • You may lose your license as a result of a hit and run accident or face suspension or probation

In order to avoid these penalties, you may think it is best not to turn yourself in and to hope that the police just never find you. However, the police do investigate hit and runs carefully, especially if someone was injured or killed. There may be witnesses at the scene, the driver may have remembered something, and the police may check with garages and repair shops in your area or do other investigative work to find you.

Benefits of Turning Yourself In

If you turn yourself in and cooperate with law enforcement, then the district attorney or prosecutor may be more willing to make a deal with you and allow you to plead to lesser charges. If you didn’t actually injure someone severely or kill them, you may even be able to avoid jail time entirely or get a suspended sentence.

In addition, if you are sued, your insurance company will not pay your legal bills or defend you unless you admit to operating the vehicle at the time of the accident. If you turn yourself in,  you can then take responsibility to your insurance company who will indemnify you in the civil lawsuit the injured victim may bring.

Getting Legal Help

You may wish to speak to an attorney about the benefits and risks of turning yourself in. Rest assured, anything you say to the attorney will be confidential and if you do not choose to turn yourself in after your conversation, your lawyer generally cannot go to the police and turn you in against your will. If you do decide to turn yourself in, your attorney can help you to understand the potential consequences and can help you talk to law enforcement and potentially negotiate a deal. 

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