Hit and run

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For other uses, see Hit and run (disambiguation).

Hit-and-run is the act of causing (or contributing to) a traffic accident (such as colliding with a person or a fixture), and failing to stop and identify oneself afterwards. It is considered a crime in most jurisdictions.

Additional obligation[edit]

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 car accident 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[edit]

Hit-and-run has severe legal consequences, including 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 imprisonment. Insurance companies often 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[edit]


Persons who have caused a traffic accident, or have contributed to it, have the duty to identify themselves to the victims or to other contributors. If the victim is not present (e.g. damage of a parked car) the one who caused the accident has to wait a certain time. If the victim does not appear, he has to report the accident at the next police station without delay. Violation of these rules ("illicit leaving of the scene of an accident") is punishable with prison up to three years or a fine (article 142 of the Strafgesetzbuch).[4]

Different in that it applies to not only to those directly involved in an accident, 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 accident for example, the actions expected would be securing the site against follow-up accidents, calling emergency services, and providing first aid to your ability until professional help arrives.


Article 101 of the Road Traffic Safety Law of the People's Republic of China provides that in a major accident, a hit and run results in revocation of the offender's driving license, and 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 accident 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.[5]

Hong Kong[edit]

Where, owing to the presence of a vehicle on a road, an accident 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.[6]


Abandoning the victim of an accident is criminally imprisoned for up to 3 years or fined.[7]


Administrative penalties[edit]

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[edit]

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 accidents rarely stop to be tested.

Case law[edit]

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.[8]

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.[9]

United States[edit]

See also: AMBER Alert

The penalties (and the definition) of hit-and-run vary from state to state in the United States.[10] For example, in Virginia, the crime is a felony if the accident causes death, injury, or damage to attended property in excess of a certain dollar amount; otherwise, it is a misdemeanor.[11]

In Texas, the crime is a third degree felony if the accident involves a fatality or serious bodily injury. Accidents 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 and/or a fine not to exceed $5,000. Accidents causing $200 or more in total damages without injuries are punishable by a class B misdemeanor, and accidents causing less than $200 in total damages are a class C misdemeanor.[12]

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.[13] There are also significantly higher fines if an animal is injured in the hit and run accident.[14]


Hit and run is defined in Canada as Failure to stop at scene of accident under Section 252 of the Criminal Code of Canada and subject to a penalty of 5 years in prison. For a person to be guilty of hit and run in Canada, the prosecution must prove that the accused was aware of the accident, 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 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. This reverse onus has been held to be a justified limit under section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If bodily harm or death is caused in the accident 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. If the accused is also convicted of other offences in relation to the accident (e.g. impaired driving or flight from police) then courts will often make the sentence for hit and run consecutive to the penalties for the other offences, the rationale being that hit and run is often committed with the intent of evading criminal or civil liability.


Australian law concerning vehicle crashes, says that a driver involved in an accident must stop at the scene and give his or her information to all other drivers involved and/or persons injured, as well as the owner and/or driver of any property damaged, and a police officer if:

  • Anyone is killed or injured;
  • A vehicle involved in the crash is towed or otherwise carried away from the accident by another vehicle;
  • Any other driver involved in the crash does not stop to exchange information;
  • A police officer asks for any of the information. [15]

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/or license suspension or revocation. [16] 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. [17]


  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. 
  3. ^ Dalby, J. Thomas; Nesca, Marc (September 2008). "The Psychology of Hit and Run". Law Enforcement Executive Forum 8 (5): 51–56. 
  4. ^ §142 of German Strafgesetzbuch
  5. ^ Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China Article 133
  6. ^ Hong Kong Ordinance Chapter 374, Road Traffic Ordinance, Section 56, Duty to stop in case of accidents
  7. ^ Article 88 of Law No. 3/2007 ((Portuguese) Lei n.º 3/2007; (Chinese) 第3/2007號法律)
  8. ^ Judicial Yuan Interpretation 284 translated by Li-Chih Lin, Esq., J.D.
  9. ^ Judicial Yuan Interpretation 531 translated by Li-Chih Lin, Esq., J.D.
  10. ^ "Leaving the Scene of an Accident/Hit and Run". Findlaw for the Public. 
  11. ^ "Code of Virginia §46.2-894". LIS Code of Virginia Searchable Database. 
  13. ^ "N.Y. V..&.T. L. § 600.". New York State Assembly. Retrieved November 28, 2012. 
  14. ^ "N.Y. V..&.T. L. § 601.". New York State Assembly. Retrieved November 28, 2012. 
  15. ^ "NSW Road Rules 2008". Government of South Australia. pp. Part 18, Division 1, Rule 287. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  16. ^ "Demerit Points". Government of South Australia. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  17. ^ "Vehicle Collisions in Australia". NSW Compensation Lawyers. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 

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