In Arizona, the penalties of a hit-and-run will depend on the damage. If no one is injured, drivers who leave the scene will be charged with a misdemeanor, while an accident that results in injury or death will be charged as a felony.
While it’s illegal in every state to leave the scene of a crime, dealing with a hit-a-run will vary depending on the state. If you're the victim of a hit-and-run, it’s best to identify the vehicle, notify the proper authorities, and let your insurance company know as soon as possible.
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What is a hit-and-run?
A hit-and-run constitutes the act of a driver colliding with another vehicle without stopping. No matter your location, the law demands that you stop your car after an accident.
Stopping allows the other party to collect the necessary information to file a claim. A driver might run in an attempt to avoid payment—but the consequences are inevitable, and penalties will worsen for those who leave the scene of an accident.
Even if you didn’t cause the accident, it’s still illegal to leave without exchanging information. It’s best to think twice before pressing the gas pedal.
What happens if you commit a hit-and-run in Arizona?
Regardless of the severity, you should never leave the scene of an accident in Arizona. Doing so will result in harsh fines and lasting legal implications—such as a felony.
Is a hit-and-run a felony in Arizona?
The basic charge for a hit-and-run in Arizona is a misdemeanor, but charges will differ based on the severity of the accident. Drivers who vacate the scene of a crime where no one is injured will be given the base charge—but if injury or death occurs, this charge will be a felony.
If injuries were minor, it’s possible to have charges reduced to a misdemeanor in court. But, by having already left the scene of a crime, the cards may already be stacked against you.
What is the punishment for a hit-and-run in Arizona?
Punishments for a hit and run in Arizona will depend on what was damaged and who was injured.
For example, if your hit and run only damages non-vehicle property, you will be tried for either a Class 2 or Class 3 misdemeanor. The consequences of such are as follows:
Jail sentence up to four months
Up to two years probation
Possible license suspension
Complete payment for the damage caused
A hit and run that results in severe injury or death will be charged as a felony—between classes 2 and 6. The severity of punishment will vary based on the charge, but drivers can face steep fines and up to 35 years in prison for the hit-and-run alone.
Here’s a breakdown of possible punishments for a hit-and-run in Arizona:
3-year driver's license suspension
10-year driver's license suspension
Jail time for hit-and-runs will be given on top of the time for additional charges—such as
DUIs or reckless driving. If alcohol or drug consumption was involved, a court-mandated treatment might be added.
How to avoid a hit-and-run charge
Arizona law demands that drivers involved in an accident resulting in injury or death should “Immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to the accident scene as possible but shall immediately return to the accident scene.” The same applies to hit-and-runs that have caused vehicle or property damage.
After causing an accident, a driver needs to follow these steps:
Find and notify the owner of the vehicle or property
If the owner cannot be found, leave a legible notice containing your contact information, documents, and explanation of the situation
Provide reasonable assistance to any injured person(s)
Report the accident to the police as soon as possible
Failing to comply with any of the above steps may result in a hit-and-run charge—the definition of which is leaving the scene of a crime without providing information and assistance.
There is only one scene of an accident in Arizona, regardless of how many victims were involved.
What should I do if I experience a hit-and-run in Arizona?
If you’re involved in a hit-and-run in Arizona, don’t panic. By collecting the correct information, staying calm, and acting quickly, you’ll be back on the road in no time.
At the scene
Most importantly, do not follow the at-fault car—this can be dangerous and prevent you from recording necessary information about the accident. After being hit, move your vehicle to a safe location, call 911 if needed, and summon police to your location.
As you wait, take note of the following:
What happened leading up to the crash
Relative details about the other vehicle (make, model, body type, identifying marks)
What the driver looked like
Where the driver fled (direction)
Taking pictures and talking to other witnesses can bolster your claim. It’s always a good idea to document an accident, while additional eyes can help you notice details you may have missed initially.
After you leave the scene
Double-check that the officers filed a report. A police report will go a long way in verifying the accident from your insurance. Call your local station or check their website to ensure a valid claim has been filed.
Most insurance providers ask that you file a claim within 24 hours of an accident—the sooner, the better.
If the driver can be identified (via a license number or police investigation), their liability insurance will cover the damage upfront.
This process becomes more complicated if the driver cannot be identified or does not have basic insurance. You may still be covered if your plan has one of the following:
What insurance covers a hit-and-run?
Will it cover a hit-and-run?
A deductible may be necessary
Uninsured motorist coverage
Dependant on the insurer and location, check with agent
Medical payments (MedPay) coverage
Covers what health insurance doesn't, plus deductible
Personal injury protection (PIP)
Covers other expenses related to an accident (lost wages and additional fees)
How to find affordable insurance for collisions and more
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