VTL 600(1)(a), “Leaving the Scene of an Accident With Property Damage”
Written By: Benjamin Goldman, Esq.
New York State mandates that all drivers carry liability insurance before operating a vehicle, with strict penalties for not doing so. The thought process behind this was to minimize litigation after minor accidents. If a fender bender can be resolved by pulling over and exchanging information, it frees up court time and energy for more significant cases.
That purpose is frustrated when drivers do not exchange information. Similarly, leaving the scene of an accident is unfair to the other party in the accident who now cannot recover from their damages. With these two factors at play, the legislature enacted a section devoted to the two times that people leave the scene. Contrary to popular belief, the police do not have to be called. As long as the proper information is exchanged, both motorists are free to go.
VTL 600 (1) is a traffic infraction with a maximum fine of $250 + $93 mandatory surcharge. A conviction will put three points on your driving record. While it is not a criminal offense, it can carry a penalty of up to 15 days in jail should the judge wish to impose it. In fact, most traffic courts put such cases on the criminal calendar instead of the traffic calendar. A motorist with a CDL license, will get their CDL privileges suspended for a year if they plead guilty or are found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident.
A person can be cited with this if they knew or had reason to know that damage had been caused to any kind of property of another person. This is usually a car, but can include a tree, landscaping, mailboxes, lawn furniture, etc. It also includes the railing on the side of the highway. Once a person realizes that they have damaged the property of another, the person must stop and self-report their contact information to the other party. This includes handing over their license and insurance card, as well as their address. If the property is in a remote location and there are no other witnesses, the driver must contact the local police agency.
FAQ's about Leaving the Scene of an Accident / Property Damage
- Q. Can I go to jail for leaving the scene of an accident?
A. The vast majority of cases do not involve jail time. In a situation of a repeat offender, a DWI, or a serious injury or death, the chances of jail increase exponentially.
Q. I got into an accident, got all nervous, and drove away. What should I do now?
A. Get in touch with an attorney.
Q. I got into an accident but it was not my fault at all so I left. Is that a problem?
A. Yes. Fault is not relevant to the issue of leaving the scene of an accident. If you were in an accident and there was damage to someone else’s property, you are required to stay at the scene.
Q. I got into an accident, but the other driver just drove away, so I drove away as well. Am I in trouble?
A. If the other driver drove away it may seem like they will not get you in trouble, but you did not follow the law. If you were in an accident, you technically need to exchange information or report the accident to law enforcement.
If you received a traffic ticket for leaving the scene of an accident, we can help. It is a serious ticket but there are many good defenses to this charge. The Benjamin Goldman Law Office is a New York State traffic ticket law firm. We help motorists across the state. Our attorneys can go to court in your place and should be able to obtain an advantageous disposition. Our goal would be to get the charges reduced to a no-point parking ticket or dismissed entirely.