Charged with Leaving the Scene?
(Blue Springs, MO)
Not long ago I was leaving the store in the evening with my daughter. I checked behind me, like I always do to back out of my parking space and hit a parked car. I didn't even see it, because it was extremely dark. I would really like to say the light in that parking lot was not working that night, so it was real difficult for me to get out of my space.
I asked a lady that was walking outside if I had hit that car, and she said yes. I knew I did, but was shaken. I got out and pulled up on the curb then waited for the person to show up, because it was a parked car I hit. (It belonged to a young man that worked there.) I wanted to wait, but my daughter is disabled and started having a panic attack.
I was struggling with that, and couldn't get out of the car to run into the store. I probably could have found the guy and let him know. Finally I had no choice but to run home and tell my husband to get over to the hardware store quick and find that guy and let him know. It's a 5 min. drive.
He did that, but in the meantime that lady that I talked to in the parking lot called the police when I left. So long story short, there was a cop at my front door, and I got charged for leaving the scene. I got a letter today from my insurance company that said I have a few months to drive then I'm getting dropped.
Am I going to have trouble getting new insurance, or end up losing my licence? Can I challenge this, have it removed from my record or get it overturned?
The guy got his car fixed already. My car had no damage, and all this is behind us. My driving record is good, just some speeding tickets, and those got paid right away. Any info on how to best handle this would help. Thanks.
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ANSWER for "Charged with Leaving the Scene?":
Christine (Blue Springs, MO):
You have likely been charged with violating Missouri Statute Section 577.060, "Leaving the Scene of an Accident," which can be summarized as follows:
A driver involved in an accident resulting in damage to the property of another person must immediately stop at the accident scene, or as close to the scene as possible. Once stopped the driver must remain at the accident scene until the driver gives the owner of the damaged property the following information:
(a) His or her name
(b) His or her residence, including city and street number
(c) The registration or license number of the car which caused the accident
(d) His or her driver's license number
Missouri law does not stipulate that drivers in violation of Missouri State Section 577.060 will automatically lose their driver's license, or have their license suspended.
A violation of Section 577.060 is a Class A Misdemeanor when only property was damaged, and a Class D felony if the accident resulted in injuries to a person.
While you can contest the accusation, from the facts you present it appears you were in direct violation of Section 577.060. Using your daughter's panic attack as a defense to your leaving the scene of an accident may not be sufficient. Moreover, using your daughter's disability as a defense may raise the ire of the judge hearing the case.
Your insurance company at any time can decide to renew your policy, raise your premiums, or cancel your policy.
In your defense, you would be best served by seeking the advice and counsel of a local attorney.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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