The statute governing a driver’s criminal liability when they are involved in a hit and run accident in Oregon recently changed and a driver is now required to make a good faith effort to comply with the statute if, after the fact, the driver has “reason to believe” that they were involved in an accident and to call 9-1-1 immediately if they later learned a person was injured. Previously, a driver in most circumstances had no obligation to take further measures if they learned after the fact they were involved in an accident — now they may be required to return to the scene. In fact, a tragic circumstance where this scenario played out, and the legal battle that ensued was the impetus for this recent change in the law.
ORS 811.700, lays out the different obligations a driver has when they are involved in an accident resulting in damage to property in three scenarios. First, when a vehicle is involved in an accident with another occupied vehicle, the driver is required to immediately stop and exchange information with the other driver. Second, when a driver is involved in a collision with a parked vehicle, the driver is required to take reasonable steps to identify the owner, and if that is not possible, they are required to leave a note in a conspicuous place on the vehicle. Finally, when a diver is involved in an accident that damages property adjacent to a roadway, the driver is required to take reasonable steps to identify the owner or person in charge of the property and provide them with their information.
ORS 811.705, deals with accidents involving injury to persons. If a driver is involved in an accident that involves injury to a person, they are required to immediately stop and remain on the scene, render assistance to the injured person, exchange information with the driver or injured person, and remain on the scene until police arrive.
With the new changes, which took effect in January of this year, now a driver who learns that they were involved in an accident after the fact must, as soon as reasonably possible, also make a good faith effort to comply with the statute. A part of that good faith obligation might also arguably include an obligation to return to the scene and investigate. If the accident resulted resulted in an injury to another person, they are also required to immediately call 9-1-1 and provide dispatch with their information.
If you or someone you love has been involved in a hit and run accident you should contact my office right away. A conviction for failure to perform the duties of a driver will result in a license suspension and possibly jail or prison time. An experienced attorney can take steps to avoid a conviction and help you navigate the criminal justice system.
Call Ryan Anfuso, an experience hit and run and criminal defense attorney in Oregon, today.