California Vehicle Code §20002 makes it unlawful for a person to cause damage to property without leaving contact information. California Vehicle Code §20003 makes it unlawful to cause injury to a person with your vehicle and drive away with stopping to provide assistance and contact information.
Damage to Property:
Under California VC §20002, there must be damage to property. It is one of the elements to be charged with a Hit and Run. If no property has been damaged, then prosecutors will have a hard time proving that there is enough to charge a driver with Hit and Run.
Let’s consider an example:
David is driving alone at night. It is raining hard, and it is foggy, making it difficult for David to see. While David is driving he feels a huge bump and suddenly there is a fence directly in front of him. David stops the car and gets out to inspect the situation. He looks at the fence, which is a fence surrounding someone’s private property. He notices that he, in fact, stopped his car about two feet prior to the fence. As a result, there is no damage to the fence, not even a scratch. David further finds that the bump was not him hitting the fence, but running over a pothole in the road.
David cannot be charged with a Los Angeles hit and run because he did not cause any damage to someone’s property. If David leaves the scene without leaving his contact information, he will still not be charged because there is no damage.
Let’s say that David did hit the fence and then drove off without providing any contact information. Then officers have cause to arrest David, and Prosecutors have cause to charge him.
Injury to Person
Under California VC §20003, there must be injury to a person for the driver to be charged with a hit and run. If no one has been injured, then there cannot be a hit and run.
Let’s consider an example:
David is driving home during the day. He is in a rush, as he is late to get to work and he cannot be late again. As he is driving he crosses an intersection where the traffic light shows green. He speeds through the intersection and does not notice that despite the light being green, people are stopped and not moving. He looks up to see several people outside of their cars crowding in the middle of the intersection. David tries to slam on his breaks and stops approximately 3 feet away from the crowd, nearly missing hitting a gentleman. The gentleman is not hurt, nor has he actually been touched by the car. David backs up slowly and drives away without stopping to talk.
David will not be charged with a Hit and Run. He has no obligation to provide contact information as there was no injury to the gentleman, nor was there any property damage.
If you find yourself being charged with a Hit and Run and there was no injury to person or damage to property, then it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Los Angeles Hit and Run attorney. There is a good chance your case will be dismissed or in the very least, reduced.