Do Not Leave the Scene After an Accident

Posted by Richard Lawson | Jul 01, 2017 | 0 Comments

The story in the AJC about the Marietta man who fled the scene of an accident while his passenger dies is sobering and should bring to everyone's attention to never leave the scene of an accident.  

In the 22 years that I have practiced law, no one has ever been better off after leaving the scene of an accident, especially if someone is injured or there is a fatality.  

It is a misdemeanor in Georgia to commit a hit and run. If someone is injured or killed, it is a felony.  How can any of us forget the case involving Aimee Michaels, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for a hit and run collision that killed five people?  Her mother was sentenced to 8 years for the attempt to cover-up the crime by repairing the car. 

Most hit and run accidents involve a person who has been drinking or had been consuming drugs.  What sometimes happens is that at the moment of a car accident, some people become afraid of getting a DUI and flee the scene.  

Admittedly, at times it appears to work out.  Even when the police find the person responsible, they can only charge the person with misdemeanor hit and run.   

However, as in the case of Aimee Michaels, her crime was leaving the scene of the accident.  Had she stayed, she would have been legally responsible for the death of the victims, but she would never have been sent to prison for 35 years.  

In fact, had she not been impaired, she at most would have served five years for 5 counts of misdemeanor vehicular homicide.  Her crime was the indifference to the suffering of the people she killed and their families.  Her mother's crime was also her indifference to the victims.  

Also, many prosecutors and judges consider leaving the scene of an accident, without injuries, to be more serious than DUI. The reason it is a more serious crime is that it is an offense of specific intent.  

A person must decide (even in a split second) to leave the scene of an accident.  Whereas, a DUI is a crime of general intent.  In the United States Criminal Justice System, crimes of specific intent are usually considered more serious than crimes of general intent. 

The point I am trying to make is that there is a tremendous risk in leaving the scene of an accident. If you are in an accident, do not leave the scene.

Practice Note:

The Rules and advice are the same for boating and Georgia Boating Under the Influence charges.  Never leave there scene of a boating accident and try to render aid. 

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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