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When Is A Driver Allowed To Leave The Scene Of An Accident?

On Behalf of | Aug 31, 2023 | Criminal Defense

The law in Texas very clearly requires that those involved in a collision stop at the scene to check on the other people involved and then wait for police officers to arrive so that they can submit a police report about the crash.

In all but the rarest of circumstances, it is incumbent upon those involved in a collision to abide by those rules and stop at or very close to the scene of the crash until officers tell them they are free to go. With that said, there are some scenarios in which someone can theoretically leave the scene of a crash without risking criminal consequences.

They are unaware of the collision

Minor collisions, like a property damage-only fender bender that occurs at low speeds, may not seem like a collision to a driver who doesn’t see the contact occur. Sometimes, people think they hit a pothole or a stick in the road rather than striking a parked vehicle or a cyclist. When a driver is truly unaware that a crash occurred, they can potentially avoid consequences for leaving the scene of the wreck.

They need to protect themselves or others

Most people involved in a collision will know that the crash occurred and will have a legal obligation to stop. However, if doing so would put someone in danger, leaving the scene of the crash could be a reasonable reaction. For example, if there is a fire at the scene of the crash or a chemical spill, a motorist may need to leave for their physical safety. The same could sometimes be true if someone other than the driver suffers a major injury and the wreck, and they do not feel like they can wait for emergency assistance to arrive at the scene.

They did not cause damage or injury

The only other scenario in which someone can leave the scene of a crash without reporting it to the authorities is when an initial evaluation determines that no one got hurt and no property damage results in from the collision.

Unless the situation falls into one of these three relatively restrictive categories, however, a motorist who is involved in a wreck will typically need to file a police report to remain compliant with Texas law. Knowing what steps to take after a car crash can help someone protect their rights and finances after an accident. Seeking legal guidance is generally a good way to gain this clarity.