Passengers, as Well as Drivers, Can Be Prosecuted for Hit-and-Run

As you might expect, Virginia drivers who leave the scene of an accident are subject to extremely serious criminal penalties, including long prison terms if any deaths or injuries are involved. What you may not know, however, is that Virginia law also makes it incumbent upon a vehicle's passengers to report an accident to the authorities within 24 hours. Failure to do so can result in a passenger being prosecuted for a misdemeanor or even a felony. The consequences likely won't be as severe as those for the responsible driver, but can be onerous in their own right (including thousands of dollars in fines and possible probation or jail time).

It's easy to understand why this statute is in place. Often, police can only crack an unsolved hit-and-run case when one of the passengers learns that he may be held criminally liable and decides to contact the authorities. (More often, one hopes, the passenger simply listens to his conscience and does the right thing.)

What if a passenger in the car has been intimidated by the driver into not reporting the incident, or threatened with retribution if he does? Here, the law is more obscure, but a good defense attorney can make the case that the passenger feared for his safety, or even his life, and that's why he did not report the accident to police.

Were you a passenger in a car that was involved in a Virginia hit-and-run incident, and you fear that you may be contacted by the authorities (or wish to contact the authorities yourself, but don't know how)? Call the Virginia traffic attorneys at Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman at 888-783-9701 for a free consultation.

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