It can turn into one when the right circumstances exist.
While most accidents occur as a result of driver error which often leads to one or more parties being cited for a traffic violation, there are times when an accident could result in an individual being hit with criminal charges. In this article, we are sharing with you when an accident could be considered a criminal offense and what you should do if you were involved in a collision and/or had criminal charges filed against you.
When can I be criminally charged for an accident?
Although the laws in each state do vary, the following types of behavior could potentially result in you being charged with a criminal offense after you caused an accident:
- Reckless driving.
Each state defines reckless driving in its own way and imposes different types of penalties for when the crime is committed. For example, the State of Florida says that when a person drives “any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property,” they are guilty of reckless driving. When a person is charged with reckless driving for the first time in Florida, they could be faced with imprisonment for up to 90 days, a fine of no more than $500, or both. Depending on what state you live in, you could be faced with heftier fines if you were driving recklessly and then caused a car accident as a result.
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in any state in the U.S. while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Although each state penalizes DUI offenders differently, they all view a driver 21 years of age and older with a blood-alcohol concentration limit (BAC) of 0.08% or higher to be legally impaired. Those who are under the age of 21 or are operating a commercial vehicle are subject to lower BAC limits. For instance, most states set the BAC limit to 0.04% for commercial drivers, meaning if a truck driver who was operating a semi caused an accident and it was determined his/her BAC level was 0.04%, they would be charged with DUI.
- Hit and run accident.
If you cause an accident and fail to remain at the scene to exchange information with the other driver or until law enforcement has arrived, you could be charged with hit-and-run. In the event the accident caused bodily injury to someone else or they were killed, you could potentially be charged with vehicular manslaughter.
- Driving on a suspended or revoked license.
If your driving privileges were suspended or revoked, you would likely be faced with a criminal charge if you caused an accident and it was determined you were not legally permitted to drive at the time.
- Road rage.
When a driver intends to cause harm to someone else through their driving (i.e. bumping someone else’s vehicle with theirs, running them off the road, etc.), they could be charged with a crime.
If you are the victim of an auto accident or are facing criminal charges for causing a collision, USAttorneys.com is here to get you connected with the right legal professional. While some individuals need legal help from a reputable accident lawyer in their city, others could benefit from retaining a criminal defense attorney following the occurrence of a crash. If you are in need of any type of legal advice, USAttorneys.com can place you in touch with a qualified lawyer who can answer your questions and address your concerns.