Iowa Hit-and-Run

If you’re involved in a hit-and-run in Iowa, you must provide the required information, report the accident, and file a claim within 24 hours.
Written by Maxine Boyko
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
In Iowa, a hit-and-run can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony and include possible penalties totaling up to $7,500 in fines, a five-year prison sentence, and driver’s license revocation.
In Iowa, if you are involved in a
hit-and-run accident
, you must remain at the scene of the crash and provide certain personal and legal information. Leaving the scene of the accident without providing the necessary information can lead to criminal charges even if you’re not at fault. 
Each state has its own punishments for fleeing the scene of an accident, but in Iowa, the criminal investigation starts early and doesn’t stop until a conviction is reached. 
If you’re unsure what you should do in case of a hit-and-run in Iowa,
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is here to break it all down—we will define a hit-and-run, explain how to report one, talk about the potential penalties of a hit-and-run, and give you the rundown on filing an insurance claim. If that wasn't enough, we'll even tell you how to save on your
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What is a hit-and-run? 

A hit-and-run occurs when a driver leaves the scene of a car accident without stopping to assist. If you collide with another vehicle, person, or property, you are legally obligated to stop and provide required information to other involved parties. 
Any driver involved in a collision is bound by law to stop and stay at the scene. Leaving the scene without exchanging information is illegal and can result in criminal charges. 

What happens if you commit a hit-and-run in Iowa?

Any driver involved in a car accident in Iowa, regardless of fault status, must stay at the scene of an accident. If you flee without providing the required contact information and
proof of insurance
to the other involved parties, you are guilty of a crime and can face serious legal and financial consequences. 
MORE: The dos and don'ts of filing a car accident claim report

Is a hit-and-run a felony in Iowa? 

Depending on how the accident unfolds, a hit-and-run in Iowa can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. If an accident causes solely property damage, it is charged as a misdemeanor. If a hit-and-run results in personal injury, it is considered a serious misdemeanor. 
The criminal charge for a serious injury is an aggravated misdemeanor.  If the accident contributes to or directly causes someone’s death, it is charged as a Class D felony. 
Key Takeaway In Iowa, whether you are a victim or at fault, you must stay at the accident scene and provide assistance to avoid hit-and-run charges.     

What is the punishment for a hit-and-run in Iowa? 

The penalties for a hit-and-run in Iowa depend on the amount of damage caused by the crash. 
Committing a hit-and-run that only results in property damage with no injuries is a misdemeanor charge carrying a sentence of up to 30 days in jail and up to $625 in fines. If the collision results in personal injury or death, you could spend up to five years in prison and owe up to $7,500 in fines. 
Here is a breakdown of the possible punishments for a hit-and-run in Iowa: 
Result of accident
Possible punishment
Property damage only
Up to 30 days in jail
Fines up to $625
Personal injury
Up to 12 months in jail
$1,875 fine
Up to five years in jail
Fines up to $7,500
Any conviction can also result in driver’s license revocation. 

How to avoid a hit-and-run charge

According to
Iowa Vehicle Code 321.261
, the driver of any vehicle who knows or believes that the driver’s vehicle was involved in an accident resulting in injury or death “shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident” or as close to the accident as possible and remain there until their legal obligations are fulfilled.
According to section 321.263 of the Vehicle Code, a driver involved in an accident resulting in injury must give “information and aid.” The legal requirements of this section may be fulfilled by doing the following: 
  • Give the driver’s name, address, and the vehicle’s registration number
  • Show the driver’s driving license to the affected person(s)
  • Offer reasonable assistance, including transportation to the hospital 
If the accident results in the death of a person, all surviving drivers must remain at the scene of the accident—except to receive medical aid or to report the accident to law enforcement—and are required to leave the following before excusing themselves from the scene: 
  • The surviving driver’s license
  • Automobile registration receipt
  • Other identification data
After leaving the scene, the surviving driver must promptly report the accident to the police department and immediately return to the scene of the accident or inform the authorities where the surviving driver(s) can be located. 
Failure to properly carry out Iowa Vehicle Code can result in hit-and-run charges. To be convicted of a hit-and-run according to Iowa law, you must be found guilty of fleeing the scene of an accident, particularly one that causes physical harm to another person. 

What should I do if I experience a hit-and-run in Iowa? 

In Iowa, if you are the victim of a hit-and-run, you should stay calm and begin jotting down any information you can. Call the police as soon as possible and render aid to anyone who may need it. 

At the scene

Do not try to track down the fleeing driver. You should promptly call 911 and move your car safely to the side of the road. While you wait for the police to arrive, collect as much information as possible. 
You should aim to gather as much of the following details as you can: 
  • The other vehicle’s make, model
  • License plate numbers
  • Any physical characteristics of the other driver
  • Any damages to the other vehicle or other distinguishing characteristics
  • The direction the driver was heading in
Take photos to document the crash site and any damages to your vehicle. Ask any nearby witnesses if they have any information they could add to the report. 

After you leave the scene

Certify that the police officer on the scene files a report. This report can help track down the fleeing driver and will act as supporting evidence when you make an insurance claim.
Remember to file an insurance claim within 24 hours of the accident.
If you or the police were able to identify the driver’s identity or their license plate number, their insurance will likely cover the damages and your insurance company will treat the claim like they would in any other accident. 
Without any information on the other driver or their vehicle, filing a claim is more difficult. You won’t be covered with
liability insurance
alone. If you have more insurance coverage—
collision coverage
medical payments (MedPay) coverage
uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
, or
personal injury protection (PIP)
—you will be better covered.  

What insurance covers a hit-and-run?

Insurance type
Will it cover a hit-and-run?
Uninsured motorist coverage
Ask your insurance company whether your policy covers hit-and-runs
Personal injury protection (PIP)
May also cover lost wages and other accident-related costs
Medical payments (MedPay) coverage
Will only cover what health insurance doesn’t. You may need to pay a deductible
Collision coverage
You may need to pay the deductible first

How to find affordable insurance for collisions and more 

Even if you aren’t at fault in a hit-and-run, an uninsured driver could flee and leave you without coverage.
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If you’re a victim of a hit-and-run, your insurance usually remains the same. Your insurer may not even make you pay your deductible. If you are at fault in the accident, however, a criminal violation on your record will raise your premium rate.
A hit-and-run is a serious offense—if you are charged with committing one, it’s in your best interest to seek out an attorney.
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