Can a Passenger Face Charges for a Hit & Run Accident?

It’s not unusual for drivers to feel extreme anxiety and panic when experiencing the immediate aftermath of a serious motor vehicle accident. Even so, any driver involved in an accident has a legal duty to provide reasonable assistance to any injured parties, even if it’s just to report the incident and call for emergency medical services. It’s critical that a driver doesn’t leave the scene of an accident until law enforcement officials arrive and complete their accident report. If a driver intentionally, unknowingly, or unconsciously flees an accident scene, they may face serious criminal charges, including “felony hit and run.” But what about the passenger in the hit and run vehicle?

The Passenger’s Responsibility

According to Virginia law, a passenger can be charged with failing to report a motor vehicle accident. Legally, passengers have 24 hours to report an accident or incident to the state police or local law enforcement officials. Once this deadline passes, a passenger may be deemed complicit in the crime.

A passenger may face a misdemeanor or felony conviction if:

  • The driver leaves the scene and doesn’t make an accident report
  • The passenger is over 16 years old
  • The passenger knows the accident happened
  • The accident led to injuries, fatalities, or property damage

The legal consequences of failing to report a hit and run incident depends entirely upon the level of property damage and whether a victim was injured or killed as a result of the accident. Depending on the circumstances of the incident, a passenger could face jail time, exorbitant fines, and a criminal record if convicted in a court of law.

Retain Legal Representation

If you were a passenger in a car that fled the scene of an accident, contact the Virginia Beach hit and run defense lawyers at The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller. We can evaluate your case, investigate the accident, and develop a defense strategy that effectively challenges your charges.

Contact The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller at (757) 517-2942 to schedule a free consultation.