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Leaving the Scene of an Accident

Leaving the scene of an accident after causing property damage in Massachusetts carries a penalty of 2 weeks to 2 years in jail, or a fine of between $20 and $200 or both. A second or subsequent leaving the scene offense cannot be filed or continued without a finding unless a motion is filed and a judge certifies that the CWOF is in the interests of justice. The RMV may, and shall unless judge recommends otherwise, revoke the defendant’s driver’s license for 60 days for a first offense or for 1 year for subsequent offense within 3 years. The Registry can also revoke the registration of the vehicle operated by the defendant at the time of the accident.
 
Leaving the scene after causing personal injury carries a minimum jail sentence of at least 6 months up to 2 years and a minimum fine of at least $500.00 up to $1,000.00. The case cannot be continued without a finding (CWOF’ed) and the Registry of Motor Vehicles is required to revoke the defendant’s license for 1 year for a first offense and 2 years for repeat offenses. The Registry can also revoke the registration of the defendant’s vehicle.
 
A leaving the scene of an accident conviction is considered a major violation under the Massachusetts Habitual Traffic Offender Law.
 
A person who leaves the scene of a motor vehicle accident in Massachusetts after causing personal injury is subject to prosecution pursuant to G.L. c. 90 §24(2)(a) and § 24(2)(a1/2)(1) respectively.  The purpose for these statutes, as described by the legislature, is to deter people from fleeing the scene of a car accident without informing the victim of their identity. A person who has suffered personal injury or property damage is legally entitled to promptly obtain accurate information about the person in charge of the vehicle and easily be able to find the driver later.  The driver of the vehicle has an affirmative obligation to immediately stop at the scene of the accident and provide the information that is required; it is not enough for the driver to be willing to stop somewhere else and answer questions. If reasonably possible, the information must also be provided either directly to the injured party, a person acting in the interest of the injured party, or to a public officer or other person at or near the scene at the time of the injury. The driver will be unable to allege that they believed in good faith that they were known by any of the people at the scene, the information must be provided.
 
To sustain a leaving the scene of an accident conviction, the burden is on the state to prove five  things beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) the defendant operated a motor vehicle, (2) the operation occurred in a place where the public would not be considered trespassing, (3) while operating, the defendant caused damage to  another vehicle or property or to another person either through a collision or in some other way (4) the defendant knew that the personal injury / property damage collision had occurred and (5) after causing the damage or injuries, the driver did not stop to provide his name, home address, and his vehicle’s license plate number.
 
The driver will not be able to allege that he did not intend to break the law.  Nor will the driver be able to say that he did not know that injuries resulted if they were aware that the collision occurred.  Also, the extent of the damages or injury is not relevant unless it is in relation to the circumstantial evidence of if the driver knew there was a collision.  Inferences can be made from other circumstantial evidence as well, for instance in relation to whether the driver made himself known or who was actually driving the vehicle.
 
Contact a lawyer if you have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident in Massachusetts or if a leaving the scene conviction has resulted the suspension of your driver’s license.