In Michigan, it is a legal requirement for drivers involved in an accident to stop and remain at the scene to exchange information with the other parties involved and, if necessary, provide assistance to those who are injured.

Failing to stop and provide the required information after being involved in an accident can result in criminal charges. Penalties for leaving the scene of an accident can vary depending on the severity of the accident and whether there are injuries or fatalities involved. Penalties can include fines, license points, community service, and potential jail time, especially if the accident results in serious injury or death. In Michigan, not only is it a criminal misdemeanor, the licensing sanctions for this offense are 6 points on your driving record. This means your insurance goes up and you risk your license being suspended depending on your driving record.

Car accidents can be chaotic and disorienting experiences, and in the aftermath, individuals involved may face critical decisions. One such decision is whether to stay at the scene or leave – a choice that carries significant legal consequences. In Michigan, as in many other states, leaving the scene of a car accident is a serious offense, and understanding the legal implications is paramount for all drivers.

The Duty to Stop and Exchange Information

Michigan law is unequivocal when it comes to the responsibilities of drivers involved in a car accident. According to the Michigan Vehicle Code (MCL 257.617), any person involved in a crash resulting in injury or property damage must immediately stop their vehicle at the scene of the accident. Moreover, drivers are required to provide their name, address, registration number, and, if requested, exhibit their driver’s license to the other parties involved and any law enforcement officers present.

Consequences of Leaving the Scene

Leaving the scene of a car accident, commonly known as a hit-and-run, is a criminal offense with severe penalties in Michigan. The specific consequences can vary depending on the circumstances of the accident.

  1. Misdemeanor Charges: Leaving the scene of an accident causing only property damage is generally classified as a misdemeanor. A conviction may result in fines, probation, community service, and potential imprisonment for up to 90 days.
  2. Felony Charges: If the accident involves injury or death, leaving the scene becomes a felony offense. Felony hit-and-run convictions carry substantially harsher penalties, including significant fines, potential imprisonment for several years, and the suspension or revocation of the driver’s license.
  3. Civil Consequences: In addition to criminal charges, individuals who leave the scene of an accident may face civil liability for any injuries or property damage caused. Victims of hit-and-run accidents have the right to pursue compensation through legal action.

Legal and Moral Obligations

Beyond the legal ramifications, there is a moral obligation to stay at the scene of an accident. Leaving the scene not only undermines the trust and cooperation necessary for road safety but also jeopardizes the well-being of those involved. Promptly exchanging information and seeking medical attention when necessary are fundamental to ensuring a fair and just resolution in the aftermath of a collision.

Steps to Take After an Accident

In the event of a car accident in Michigan, drivers should follow specific steps to fulfill their legal obligations:

  1. Stop Immediately: Regardless of the severity of the accident, come to a complete stop at the scene.
  2. Check for Injuries: Assess whether anyone involved in the accident requires medical attention. Call for emergency assistance if necessary.
  3. Exchange Information: Share your name, address, vehicle registration number, and driver’s license information with the other parties involved. Obtain the same information from them.
  4. Notify Law Enforcement: If the accident involves injury, death, or significant property damage, contact local law enforcement to report the incident.
  5. Document the Scene (ie take pictures): Take photographs of the accident scene, including vehicle damage, road conditions, and any relevant details.
  6. Stay Calm and Cooperative: Avoid confrontations and remain calm when interacting with others at the scene. Cooperate with law enforcement in their investigation.

Conclusion

Leaving the scene of a car accident in Michigan is not only a violation of the law but a breach of the fundamental duty to prioritize the safety and well-being of all road users. Understanding the legal obligations, potential consequences, and taking responsible actions at the scene can contribute to a safer and more just road environment for everyone. In the aftermath of an accident, staying informed and making ethical choices are essential components of responsible driving in the Great Lakes State.