Phoenix Hit-and-Run Lawyer

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Phoenix Hit-and-Run Accident Attorney

When a car accident occurs, the drivers involved in the accident are required by state law to stop and exchange information following the accident, regardless of the severity or damage incurred. However, too many people don’t do this. While an initial impulse might be to just leave the scene and drive off, doing so can have worse consequences than staying and waiting out the aftermath of the wreck.

Ryan Garvey Attorneys criminal defense attorneys have defended drivers involved in hit-and-run accidents and have been successful in protecting the rights of our clients. We understand that people make mistakes, and we can help you fix your mistake in the eyes of the law, so you can get on with your life and put it behind you. We have more than 50 years of combined experience with criminal law. If you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident, you need a criminal attorney.

Arizona Hit and Run Laws

It is illegal in Phoenix for a driver involved in an accident to leave the scene of an accident. There are criminal charges associated with these offenses, categorized under three main laws. All three laws require drivers who are involved in automobile crashes, whether the other vehicle is stopped, parked, or moving, to immediately stop their vehicle at the scene of the accident.

If they left the scene, they must return as soon as possible, share information, and provide help if necessary to others involved in the accident. This must also be done without obstructing other drivers and traffic on the roadways. Failure to comply with these laws will result in varying penalties depending on the damages and injuries caused by the wreck, regardless of who was at fault. Below are the potential charges for failing to obey these laws:

  • If an accident results in damage only to a vehicle, any driver not in compliance with the laws described above will be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor.
  • If an accident results in property damage and/or physical injury or death, any driver not in compliance with the law will be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor for failing to exchange info and/or a Class 6 felony for not offering assistance.
  • If an accident results in injury or death to a person, any driver who does not abide by the stop, exchange, and assist laws will be charged with a felony of classes 2, 3, or 5, depending on the circumstances of the accident and the extent to which the law was broken.

A person may also be charged with a misdemeanor in the following situations:

  • Failing to share information is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days of jail time and a fine of $500.
  • Leaving the scene without stopping at an accident where damage to another vehicle or other property occurred is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to four months of jail time and a fine of $750.


If a driver neither stops nor offers assistance and leaves the scene of an accident that involves physical injury or death to other drivers or passengers, they will be charged with a felony according to these classifications:

  • If the accident was not serious and no death occurred, it is a Class 5 felony, punishable by revocation of the driver’s license for three years, jail time from nine months to two years, and a fine of $750.
  • If the injuries of an accident were serious, or if death occurred, and the driver failed to stop or offer assistance and left the scene of the accident, it is a Class 3 felony that can be upgraded to a Class 2 felony if the driver was at fault. Physical injury is defined as serious if it causes a reasonable risk of death, permanent or serious disfigurement, impairment of an organ or limb, or other serious impairment of health.

The Class 3 felony is punishable by jail time from 2.5 to seven years and a fine of $750. A Class 2 felony is punishable by prison time from four to 10 years and a fine of $750. In either case, the person’s driver’s license will be revoked. License revocation will be for a five-year period if a driver left the scene when injuries were involved and a 10-year revocation if they left the scene of an accident in which a death occurred.

What Drivers Should Do When Involved in a Car Accident in Phoenix, AZ

When you are a driver in Phoenix, it is important to know the proper steps to take in the event an accident occurs. Knowing what to do in advance and being prepared for a wreck can prevent you from following your instinct to drive off:

  • Step 1: Stop your car. Even if you don’t think the accident caused damage or the other driver tells you there is no damage and encourages you to drive on, don’t follow your impulse to leave the scene. If you fear the other driver, stay in your car and call the police. If you feel safe, get out and exchange information if the other driver is capable.
  • Step 2: Provide assistance to anyone who appears to be injured. Drivers involved in an injury-causing crash are required by law to provide “reasonable assistance” and/or help with coordinating necessary medical transportation (i.e., call 911).
  • Step 3: Call the police. If you haven’t yet, at this point, call the police, even for a minor collision. If there is property damage or injuries, the insurance companies will require a police report to file a claim. Tell the police all the details you can to be included in the report. This helps to document accident evidence that may be imperative in future legal proceedings regarding insurance claims. Additionally, if you think the other driver may be intoxicated, tell the police officer.
  • Step 4: At this point, you should exchange driver information if you haven’t already. Keep in mind that uninsured drivers might lie about their names and address to avoid identification and prosecution. Get the following information as soon as possible in case they leave the scene before the police arrive:
    • Drivers’ names
    • Drivers’ addresses
    • Driver’s license numbers
    • Vehicle registration numbers
  • Step 5: Collect the names and contact information of witnesses including home and work addresses and phone numbers, as well as the phone number of a close relative of the witnesses, such as a spouse because they are hard to track down later. You can use witnesses, such as:
    • Pedestrians
    • Bystanders in nearby buildings, businesses, or houses
    • Emergency responders
    • Other drivers who stop to help
  • Step 6: Seek medical attention. If you are injured, seek medical attention immediately. This can also potentially help in case you need to file a claim later.
  • Step 7: Call your insurance provider. This is where you can provide your insurance with the information to start the claim.
  • Step 8: Document everything. It is important to save bills and paperwork with notes in case you need them later.
  • Step 9: Call your lawyer, and don’t discuss the accident with anyone, even the police. If you were at fault for the accident, if you left the scene, were drinking and driving, driving without insurance, committing another crime, or falsely accused of a crime you aren’t guilty of, call a criminal attorney to discuss your case and learn of your options and what you’re facing.

Criminal Defense for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Phoenix, AZ

The most common criminal defense for misdemeanor charges involving a hit-and-run accident is a mistake of fact defense. A criminal attorney can pose the theory that the defendant did not know they struck the other vehicle. This argument may work in parking lot accident cases.

Another defense that sometimes works is when the driver believed there was no damage and assumed the other driver had waved them on as if the accident hadn’t happened. Small fender taps in which the front driver continues and turns right, and the other driver continues straight, assuming a stop was not occurring, can sometimes be a legitimate defense strategy.

In the event a driver hits a pedestrian and doesn’t stop their vehicle, depending on the circumstances of the accident (e.g., if it was raining, if it occurred at night, if there were no street lights, etc.) a common defense is that the driver was unaware they hit something, or they believed it was an animal or a non-living object, or an object hit their car from an unknown direction.

It may also be viable to claim that a driver left the scene of an accident because they were scared or feared it was a setup or scam. This may work if the accident occurred in a bad part of town rather than in nicer neighborhoods.

Count Our Attorneys for Your Hit-and-Run Accident Case in Phoenix, AZ

If you were charged with a crime for your involvement in a hit-and-run accident, or if you haven’t been charged yet, but it is a possibility, seek legal advice before it’s too late. Preparing a strong criminal defense for your case can make a difference in the verdict. Having a lawyer can increase your chances of getting your charges reduced and your sentence lightened. Also, if you’re not guilty of the charges against you, you will have a hard time convincing a judge without an attorney. Contact Ryan Garvey Attorneys and speak to an accident lawyer with criminal defense experience today.

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