MARSHALL, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Marshall police are warning drivers of the consequences of leaving the scene of an accident.
According to the Marshall Police Department, there have been 146 hit-and-run crashes since January. The most recent happened this past Friday on Hwy 80. An arrest was made in that case.
The law requires drivers to return to the scene and render aid in any accident involving injury or death.
“We owe it to our fellow people, our neighbors, if we strike someone, we need to stop and see, first, are they injured? Can we help them? And secondly, report that information,” said Marshall Police Chief Cliff Carruth. “If someone doesn’t have a driver’s license or insurance, we can deal with that. They might get a citation, but if they were to leave if someone who was injured, one, that’s terrible for that person. But also, they’d be facing potential felonies, and you’re taking what is a small problem and turning it into a very large problem.”
If a driver decides to leave an accident without rendering aid, they could face up to a third-degree felony conviction with up to 10 years in prison.
Under the Texas Transportation Code, a driver must stop and take certain actions after a crash that results in property damage or injury to another driver. In order to avoid the criminal charge of leaving the scene of an accident, a driver must do the following:
- With an accident involving injury or death, the driver must return to the scene and render aid, provide his or her personal information, and show his or her driver’s license if requested.
- If the driver decides to flee without rendering aid, the result could be a third-degree felony conviction, punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison. If the victim’s injuries were not serious, the result could be a felony conviction of up to 1 year in county jail or up to 5 years in state prison, along with a potential fine of up to $5,000.
- In an accident that involves damage to an occupied vehicle, the driver must stop as close as possible to the car without blocking traffic, render aid, provide personal information, and show his or her driver’s license if requested.
- Fleeing without rendering aid to an occupied vehicle is a Class C misdemeanor with a potential fine of up to $500. If the total damage to all vehicles is less than $200, the punishment could potentially be a Class B misdemeanor with up to 6 months in county jail. This same punishment applies to hitting an unoccupied vehicle or damaging fixtures/landscaping and failing to report.
- In an accident involving damage to an unoccupied vehicle, the driver must stop, locate the driver if able, provide his or her contact information, or leave a note in a conspicuous area with personal information and details regarding the accident.
- In an accident that involves damage to fixtures or highway landscaping, the driver would need to take “reasonable steps” to find a person of authority and report the damage along with contact information. If the estimated damage is worth more than $1,000, the driver would need to file a report with law enforcement.
Failure to comply with any of these requirements could result in arrest.
The Marshall Police Department says they actively pursue charges against drivers who violate these laws.