What is Hit and Run Property Damage?
Hit and run property damage is a very common offense in Washington State. Many drivers are accused of hit and run property damage every year, and the potential criminal consequences can be serious.
What you should know:
Washington law requires that if you are involved in an accident that results in property damage you must take "reasonable steps" to locate and notify the owner or person in charge of the property and provide your name and address.
If you cannot locate the owner or person in charge, you must leave a written notice with your name and address in a conspicuous place. You must also report the accident to the police. Failure to do this constitutes the crime of hit and run property damage.
What you can do now:
There are many potential ways to resolve a hit and run property damage case that can help you avoid a criminal conviction.
While hit and run property damage is a crime, many prosecutors (the people who bring the criminal charges against you) and courts are willing to allow these cases to be resolved without a plea of guilty.
Some possible ways to resolve your case include things like a "compromise of misdemeanor" a "diversion" or "continuance with a dismissal" or a "bail forfeiture" which may allow you to avoid a criminal conviction and keep your record "clean." Unfortunately, not all courts allow such programs and not all prosecutors are willing to resolve cases this way.
This is when having a lawyer becomes particularly important, as it may take some fighting (i.e. litigation) to try and prevent a criminal record. Additionally, an experienced lawyer can advise you of some things you can do now to help increase the chances your case will be resolved without a conviction.
What is the outcome of being charged with Hit and Run Property Damage in Washington State?
A Washington State hit and run property damage charge is a misdemeanor criminal offense punishable by up to a maximum of 90 days in jail and a $1,000.00 fine.
A conviction for hit and run property damage will not suspend or revoke your driver's license but may increase your insurance costs. However, if you have a commercial driver's license (CDL) a conviction for any hit and run charge (even for an incident in your personal, non-commercial vehicle) will result in a CDL disqualification. Learn More.
Most people convicted of hit and run property damage do not receive the maximum penalties.
In fact, many people convicted of hit and run property damage do not serve any jail time at all but may be required to pay fines, costs, and receive other burdensome conditions of probation.
However, only an experienced attorney can accurately advise you of what you might be facing on your hit and run property damage case.
Washington's hit and run property damage statute is RCW 46.52.010 and reads as follows: RCW 46.52.010: Duty on striking unattended car or other property - Penalty
(1) The operator of any vehicle which collided with any other vehicle which is unattended shall immediately stop and shall then and there either locate and notify the operator or owner of such vehicle of the name and address of the operator and owner of the vehicle striking the unattended vehicle or shall leave in a conspicuous place in the vehicle struck a written notice, giving the name and address of the operator and of the owner of the vehicle striking such other vehicle.
(2) The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to property fixed or placed upon or adjacent to any public highway shall take reasonable steps to locate and notify the owner or person in charge of such property of such fact and of the name and address of the operator and owner of the vehicle striking such property, or shall leave in a conspicuous place upon the property struck a written notice, giving the name and address of the operator and of the owner of the vehicle so striking the property, and such person shall further make report of such accident as in the case of other accidents upon the public highways of this state.
(3) Any person violating this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.