Hit and run

Last updated
An example of a 'hit and run' in Chicago in 2018

In traffic laws, a hit-and-run is the act of causing a traffic accident and not stopping afterwards. It is considered a supplemental crime in most jurisdictions.


Additional obligation

In many jurisdictions, there may be an additional obligation to exchange information about one's financial responsibility (including any applicable insurance) or to summon emergency services if they are needed. There may also be requirement to leave a note containing pertinent information if the property owner is not present.[ citation needed ]


Hit-and-run laws arose from the difficulties that early traffic collision victims faced in identifying perpetrators so that they could be brought to justice. Apart from the obvious ability of an automobile to flee the scene quickly (if still driveable), drivers often wore driving goggles, vehicles at the time did not have license plates, and roads were unpaved and thus quite dusty. [1]

Legal consequences of hit-and-run may include the suspension or cancellation of one's driver's license; lifetime revocation of a driver's license is possible in certain jurisdictions. It is frequently considered a criminal offense which can be punished by fines and imprisonment. Insurance companies often raise the insurance costs or even void the policies of drivers involved in this offense.

Attempts to understand the mental state of the hit and run driver began soon after the offense became codified [2] and more recently has been explored in an article titled "The Psychology of Hit and Run" (2008). [3]

Country-specific penalties


Under Australian law, a driver involved in a crash must stop at the scene and give their information to all other drivers involved and anyone injured, as well as the owner and driver of any property damaged, and a police officer if:

The demerit point system is used for the commission of traffic offenses in Australia; for each offense committed, a certain number of points are given, and the accumulation of points can lead to fines and license suspension or revocation. [5] When a driver fails to stop at the scene and provide the required information to the necessary people, he or she is guilty of a hit and run, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 points.


Hit and run is defined in Canada as failure to stop at the scene of an accident under the Criminal Code [6] and is subject to a penalty of up to 5 years in prison. [7] If bodily harm or death is caused in the crash and the prosecution can prove that the accused was aware of the bodily harm or death, the maximum penalties are up to 10 years in prison or up to life imprisonment, respectively. [8]

For a person to be convicted of failure to stop at the scene of an accident, the prosecution must prove that the accused was aware of the crash, the accused voluntarily failed to stop and render assistance and the intent for failing to stop was to evade civil or criminal liability. While the prosecution bears the traditional criminal burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the accused is presumed to have intended to evade civil or criminal liability if the prosecution can prove the other elements of the offence. [9] This reverse onus has been held to be a justified limit under section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. [10] [11]

Canadians are also required to provide their name, address and license number in writing according to the Sec. 252 (1) of the Criminal Code. Depending on the provincial law other pieces of information may be requested like: insurance number and license plate. Car Insurance is mandatory in Canada. [12]

If the accused is also convicted of other offences in relation to the crash, then courts will often make the sentence for hit and run consecutive to the penalties for the other offences,[ citation needed ] the rationale being that hit and run is often committed with the intent of evading criminal or civil liability.


Article 101 of the Road Traffic Safety Law of the People's Republic of China provides that in a major crash, a hit and run results in revocation of the offender's driving license, and up to a lifetime ban from obtaining one again.

Article 133 of the Criminal code as of 1997 provides that hit and run after an incident resulting in death, grievous bodily harm or major property damage is punishable with 3 to 7 years' imprisonment, and fixed-term imprisonment of 3 to 7 years if there was an attempt at escaping the scene of crash or is involved in other especially flagrant circumstances, and fixed-term imprisonment of not less than 7 years if the act of attempted escape results in death. [13]


Anyone who has caused a traffic crash, or contributed to it, has the duty to identify themselves to the victims or to other contributors. If the victim is not present (such as in the case of damage of a parked car) the one who caused the crash has to wait a certain time. If the victim does not appear, he has to report the crash at the next police station without delay. Violation of these rules ("illicit leaving of the scene of a crash") is punishable with prison up to three years or a fine (article 142 of the Strafgesetzbuch ). [14]

Different in that it applies to not only to those directly involved in a crash, article 323c states that anyone who fails to provide necessary help in an emergency can be punished with prison up to one year or a fine. This applies only if providing help is a "reasonable burden"—when it can take place "especially without putting yourself in substantial danger or neglecting other important duties". Not being explicitly asked to help is not an acceptable reason not to do so. In a traffic crash, for example, the actions expected would be securing the site against follow-up crashes, calling emergency services, and providing first aid to your ability until professional help arrives.

Hong Kong

Where, owing to the presence of a vehicle on a road, a crash occurs whereby-

(a) personal injury is caused to a person other than the driver of that vehicle; or
(b) damage is caused to-
(i) a vehicle other than that vehicle or a trailer drawn thereby;
(ii) an animal (any horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig or goat) other than an animal in or on that vehicle or a trailer drawn thereby; or
(iii) any other thing not being in or on that vehicle or a trailer drawn thereby, the driver of that vehicle shall stop. Otherwise, the driver commits an offence and is liable to a fine of 10000 Hong Kong dollars and to imprisonment for 12 months. [15]


Abandoning the victim of a crash is criminally imprisoned for up to 3 years or fined. [16]

New Zealand

A driver's duties in the event a motor vehicle accident is outlined in section 22 of the Land Transport Act 1998. Section 22(1) states that drivers involved in an accident must stop and ascertain whether a person has been injured, and must render all practicable assistance to any injured persons. Section 22(2) through 22(5) set out the requirements to supply driver, owner and vehicle details to police, other involved drivers and affected property owners. [17]

If a driver leaves the scene of an accident in contravention of section 22(1), the driver is liable for up to 3 months' imprisonment or a NZ$4,500 fine, and must be disqualified from driving for a minimum of 6 months. [18] If a person is injured and killed, the penalty increases to up to 5 years' imprisonment or a NZ$20,000 fine, and the mandatory disqualification increases to a minimum of 12 months. [19]

South Korea

Hit-and-run is outlined in Article 5-3 of the Act on the Aggravated Punishment, etc. of Specific Crimes. There are two sections to this Act.

If the driver runs away after killing or causing the death of a victim, Section 1 proscribes the minimum sentence as five years in prison (with a possible 5 million-30 million won fine) with the maximum being life imprisonment.

If the driver removes the victim from the accident scene and runs away after abandoning the victim, Section 2 proscribes a minimum of three years imprisonment if the victim survives. If the victim dies, the penalty is either life imprisonment or the death penalty. [20]


Administrative penalties

Article 62 of the Act Governing the Punishment of Violation of Road traffic Regulations proclaimed on 28 December 2005 and effective on 1 July 2006 provides the following administrative penalties:

Section 1: Without personal injury and death, hit-and-run drivers of motor vehicles are subject to administrative fines of 1000 to 3000 new Taiwan dollars and suspension of their driver licenses for 1 to 3 months.

Section: 4: With minor personal injury, hit-and-run drivers of motor vehicles are subject to revocation of their driver licenses, for 1 year pursuant to Section 3 of Article 67. With serious personal injury or death, hit-and-run drivers of motor vehicles are subject to revocation of their driver licenses, for lifetime pursuant to Section 1 of Article 67, but Article 67-1 allows a possible waiver after serving the revocation for 12 years if the revocation involved personal death, or 10 years if involving serious personal injury.

Criminal penalty

With personal injury or death, hit-and-run drivers of motor vehicles are also subject to imprisonment of 6 months to 5 years pursuant to Article 185-4 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of China. Hit and Run, although illegal, is seldom prosecuted on Taiwan. Drunk driving has a much more severe penalty so drunk drivers involved in crashes rarely stop to be tested.

Case law

On 13 September 1991 in the Taiwan Area, the Judicial Yuan of the Republic of China in its Interpretation 284 considered that revoking a driver license for vehicular hit and run involving personal injury or death would not violate the Constitution of the Republic of China. [21]

On 19 October 2001 in the Taiwan Area, the Judicial Yuan of the Republic of China in its Interpretation 531 further considered that lifetime revocation of a driver license for vehicular hit and run involving personal injury or death would not violate the Constitution of the Republic of China. However, this Interpretation also suggested relevant authorities in charge to reconsider the lifetime revocation and consider reinstatement for rehabilitated drivers. [22]

United Kingdom

The Road Traffic Act 1988 requires a driver to stop if an accident has occurred due to the presence of their vehicle that results in injury to another person, livestock animal, dog, or damage to another's property. The driver must then give their name and address at the scene to anyone reasonably requiring it, and if there has been an injury to another person, they must produce their certificate of insurance to anyone reasonably requiring it. Anyone failing to stop or provide such details must report the incident in person to a police station or police constable as soon as practicable, and in all cases within 24 hours. [23] [24]

Failing to stop, and failing to report, carry a maximum sentence of 6 months in imprisonment, a £5000 fine and a driving ban. [25]

United States

The penalties (and the definition) of hit-and-run vary from state to state in the United States. [26] For example, in Virginia, the crime is a felony if the crash causes death, injury, or damage to attended property in excess of a certain dollar amount; otherwise, it is a misdemeanor. [27] In California the crime can be an infraction, a misdemeanor, or a felony depending on whether there is property damage or bodily injury. [28]

In Texas, the crime is a third degree felony if the collision involves a fatality or serious bodily injury. Collisions causing less serious injuries are punishable by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for not more than five years, or confinement in the county jail for not more than one year, a fine not to exceed $5,000, or both. Collisions causing $200 or more in total damages without injuries are punishable by a class B misdemeanor, and collisions causing less than $200 in total damages are a class C misdemeanor. [29]

In New York, leaving the scene of an incident without reporting it is a traffic infraction, and if personal injury is involved, then it becomes a misdemeanor. [30] There are also significantly higher fines if an animal is injured in the hit and run crash. [31]

Related Research Articles

Drunk driving is the act of operating a motor vehicle with the operator's ability to do so impaired as a result of alcohol consumption, or with a blood alcohol level in excess of the legal limit. For drivers 21 years or older, driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is illegal. For drivers under 21 years old, the legal limit is lower, with state limits ranging from 0.00 to 0.02. Lower BAC limits apply when operating boats, airplanes, or commercial vehicles. Among other names, the criminal offense of drunk driving may be called driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated or impaired (DWI), operating [a] vehicle under the influence of alcohol (OVI), or operating while impaired (OWI).

Vehicle insurance is insurance for cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other road vehicles. Its primary use is to provide financial protection against physical damage or bodily injury resulting from traffic collisions and against liability that could also arise from incidents in a vehicle. Vehicle insurance may additionally offer financial protection against theft of the vehicle, and against damage to the vehicle sustained from events other than traffic collisions, such as keying, weather or natural disasters, and damage sustained by colliding with stationary objects. The specific terms of vehicle insurance vary with legal regulations in each region.

Vehicular homicide is a crime that involves the death of a person other than the driver as a result of either criminally negligent or murderous operation of a motor vehicle.


A U-turn in driving refers to performing a 180° rotation to reverse the direction of travel. It is called a "U-turn" because the maneuver looks like the letter U. In some areas, the maneuver is illegal, while in others, it is treated as a more ordinary turn, merely extended. In still other areas, lanes are occasionally marked "U-turn permitted" or even "U-turn only."

The Road Traffic Safety Law of the People's Republic of China is a law which was passed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China on October 28, 2003, promulgated by Decree No. 8 of the President of the PRC Hu Jintao, and took effect on May 1, 2004 on all parts of mainland China It is the People's Republic of China's first-ever law on road traffic safety, and was intended to address an alarmingly high traffic fatality rate, which is four or five times greater than other nations.

Road rage Aggressive or angry behavior in road traffic

Road rage is aggressive or angry behavior exhibited by a driver of a road vehicle. These behaviors include rude and offensive gestures, verbal insults, physical threats or dangerous driving methods targeted toward another driver or non-drivers such as pedestrians or cyclists in an effort to intimidate or release frustration. Road rage can lead to altercations, assaults and collisions that result in serious physical injuries or even death. Strategies include long horn honks, swerving, tailgating and attempting to fight.

Insurance fraud is any act committed to defraud an insurance process. This occurs when a claimant attempts to obtain some benefit or advantage they are not entitled to, or when an insurer knowingly denies some benefit that is due. According to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, the most common schemes include: premium diversion, fee churning, asset diversion, and workers compensation fraud. Perpetrators in these schemes can be insurance company employees or claimants. False insurance claims are insurance claims filed with the fraudulent intention towards an insurance provider.

A civil penalty or civil fine is a financial penalty imposed by a government agency as restitution for wrongdoing. The wrongdoing is typically defined by a codification of legislation, regulations, and decrees. The civil fine is not considered to be a criminal punishment, because it is primarily sought in order to compensate the state for harm done to it, rather than to punish the wrongful conduct. As such, a civil penalty, in itself, will not carry jail time or other legal penalties. For example, if a person were to dump toxic waste in a state park, the state would have the same right to seek to recover the cost of cleaning up the mess as would a private landowner, and to bring the complaint to a court of law, if necessary.

Traffic law in China is still in its nascent stage. Therefore, the rules of the road in China are understood to mean both the codified and uncodified practices, procedures and norms of behavior generally followed by motorists, cyclists and pedestrians in the mainland of China.

Causing death by dangerous driving is a statutory offence in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is an aggravated form of dangerous driving. It is currently created by section 1 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Many countries have adopted a penalty point or demerit point system under which a person’s driving license is cancelled or suspended based on the number of points accumulated by them over a period of time because of the traffic offences or infringements committed by them in that period. The demerit points schemes of each jurisdiction varies. These demerit schemes are usually in addition to fines or other penalties which may be imposed for a particular offence or infringement, or after a prescribed number of points have been accumulated.

Title 18 of the United States Code is the main criminal code of the federal government of the United States. The Title deals with federal crimes and criminal procedure. In its coverage, Title 18 is similar to most U.S. state criminal codes, which typically are referred to by such names as Penal Code, Criminal Code, or Crimes Code. Typical of state criminal codes is the California Penal Code. Many U.S. state criminal codes, unlike the federal Title 18, are based on the Model Penal Code promulgated by the American Law Institute.

In United States law, reckless driving is a major moving traffic violation. It is usually a more serious offense than careless driving, improper driving, or driving without due care and attention and is often punishable by fines, imprisonment, or driver's license suspension or revocation.

The Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) was founded in the UK in 1946 as a private company limited by guarantee and is the mechanism in the UK through which compensation is provided for victims of accidents caused by uninsured and untraced drivers, which is funded by an estimated £30 a year from every insured driver's premiums.

Seat belt laws in the United States

Most seat belt laws in the United States are left to the states and territories. However, the first seat belt law was a federal law, Title 49 of the United States Code, Chapter 301, Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, which took effect on January 1, 1968, that required all vehicles to be fitted with seat belts in all designated seating positions. This law has since been modified to require three-point seat belts in outboard-seating positions, and finally three-point seat belts in all seating positions. Initially, seat belt use was voluntary. New York was the first state to pass a law which required vehicle occupants to wear seat belts, a law that came into effect on December 1, 1984. New Hampshire is the only state that has no enforceable laws for the wearing of seat belts in a vehicle.

Traffic collision occurs when a vehicle collides with another vehicle, pedestrian, animal, road debris, or other stationary obstruction, such as a tree, pole or building or drives off the road

A traffic collision, also called a motor vehicle collision (MVC) among other terms, occurs when a vehicle collides with another vehicle, pedestrian, animal, road debris, or other stationary obstruction, such as a tree, pole or building. Traffic collisions often result in injury, death, and property damage.

In United Kingdom law, dangerous driving is a statutory offence. It is also a term of art used in the definition of the offence of causing death by dangerous driving. It replaces the former offence of reckless driving. Canada's Criminal Code has equivalent provisions covering dangerous driving.

The laws of driving under the influence vary between countries. One difference is the acceptable limit of blood alcohol content before a person is charged with a crime.

The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 The Act came into force from 1 July 1989. It replaced Motor Vehicles Act, 1939 which earlier replaced the first such enactment Motor Vehicles Act, 1914.

Motor Vehicles Act Wikimedia disambiguation page

The Motor Vehicles Act is an Act of the Parliament of India which regulates all aspects of road transport vehicles. The Act provides in detail the legislative provisions regarding licensing of drivers/conductors, registration of motor vehicles, control of motor vehicles through permits, special provisions relating to state transport undertakings, traffic regulation, insurance, liability, offences and penalties, etc. For exercising the legislative provisions of the Act, the Government of India made the Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989.


  1. Edward C. Fisher, Vehicle Traffic Law (Evanston, IL: Traffic Institute, Northwestern University, 1961): 289.
  2. Selling, Lowell S. (May 1942). "The Feebleminded Motorist" (pdf). The American Journal of Psychiatry. 98 (6): 834–838. doi:10.1176/ajp.98.6.834.
  3. Dalby, J. Thomas; Nesca, Marc (September 2008). "The Psychology of Hit and Run". Law Enforcement Executive Forum. 8 (5): 51–56. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  4. "NSW Road Rules 2008" (PDF). Government of South Australia: Part 18, Division 1, Rule 287. Retrieved 21 July 2014.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. "Demerit Points". Government of South Australia. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  6. Branch, Legislative Services. "Consolidated federal laws of canada, Criminal Code". laws-lois.justice.gc.ca.
  7. Branch, Legislative Services. "Consolidated federal laws of canada, Criminal Code". laws-lois.justice.gc.ca.
  8. Branch, Legislative Services. "Consolidated federal laws of canada, Criminal Code". laws-lois.justice.gc.ca.
  9. Branch, Legislative Services. "Consolidated federal laws of canada, Criminal Code". laws-lois.justice.gc.ca.
  10. R v T (1985), 18 CCC (3d) 125, 43 CR (3d) 307 (NS SC App Div).
  11. R v Gosselin (1988), 45 CCC (3d) 568, 9 MVR (2d) 290 (Ont CA)
  12. Accident Preparedness guide - Alberta, Canada
  13. Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China Article 133 Archived 29 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  14. "§142 of German Strafgesetzbuch". dejure.org.
  15. Hong Kong Ordinance Chapter 374, Road Traffic Ordinance, Section 56, Duty to stop in case of accidents
  16. Article 88 of Law No. 3/2007 ((in Portuguese) Lei n.º 3/2007; (in Chinese) 第3/2007號法律)
  17. "Land Transport Act 1998 No 110 (as at 29 October 2019), Public Act 22 Driver's duties where accident occurs – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  18. "Land Transport Act 1998 No 110 (as at 29 October 2019), Public Act 35 Contravention of section 7, or section 22 where no injury or death involved – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  19. "Land Transport Act 1998 No 110 (as at 29 October 2019), Public Act 36 Contravention of section 7 or section 22 involving injury – New Zealand Legislation". www.legislation.govt.nz. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
  20. "Statutes of the Republic of Korea". elaw.klri.re.kr.
  21. Judicial Yuan Interpretation 284 translated by Li-Chih Lin, Esq., J.D.
  22. Judicial Yuan Interpretation 531 translated by Li-Chih Lin, Esq., J.D.
  23. "170 Duty of driver to stop, report accident and give information or documents". The National Archives (United Kingdom).
  24. "Road Traffic Offences". The Crown Prosecution Service.
  25. "Penalty Table". Official DSA Theroy Test for Car Drivers and the Oficial Highway Code. Driving Standards Agency (Great Britain). p. 487. ISBN   978-0115529276.
  26. "Leaving the Scene of an Accident/Hit and Run". Findlaw for the Public.
  27. "Code of Virginia §46.2-894". LIS Code of Virginia Searchable Database.
  28. "Law section". leginfo.legislature.ca.gov. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  30. "N.Y. V..&.T. L. § 600". New York State Assembly . Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  31. "N.Y. V..&.T. L. § 601". New York State Assembly . Retrieved 28 November 2012.