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Are You Allowed to Leave the Scene of an Accident in Arizona?

Posted on December 23, 2022 in

If you get involved in a motor vehicle accident in Arizona, there are certain steps you must take and obligations you must fulfill as a driver before leaving the scene. If you leave the scene of an accident without meeting these requirements, you could face arrest for a hit-and-run. Learn what you need to do after getting into a car accident in Arizona to protect yourself and others. For more information regarding your unique case, speak to a Scottsdale car accident attorney.

Driver Responsibilities After a Crash in Arizona 

According to Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) Section 28-661, the driver of a vehicle that is involved in a motor vehicle accident that results in injury or death to one or more people must immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash or as close to the scene of the accident as possible. If the individual leaves the accident scene, he or she must immediately return. 

A driver legally must remain at the scene of an accident until he or she has fulfilled the following requirements, under A.R.S. 28-663:

  • Give his or her name, address and vehicle registration number to the other parties involved.
  • Show his or her driver’s license to the other driver, if requested.
  • Render reasonable assistance to anyone who was injured in the accident, such as arranging for transportation to the nearest hospital.

In addition, A.R.S. 28-666 requires a driver to give notice of a car accident that results in injury or death immediately to the local police department, office of the county sheriff or highway patrol. This must be done through the fastest means of communication, such as calling 911 using a cell phone from the scene of the accident. You are only allowed to leave the scene of an accident once you have fulfilled these requirements and the responding law enforcement officer gives you permission to leave.

What Is a Hit-and-Run in Arizona?

State law says that a driver who is involved in a car accident that causes serious physical injury or death and who left the scene of the accident prematurely (without fulfilling Arizona’s driver requirements) is guilty of a class 3 felony. If that same driver caused the car accident, the crime is upgraded to a class 2 felony. This crime is known as a hit-and-run. It is punishable with hefty fines and jail time in Arizona. 

What About a Property-Damage Only Accident?

In Arizona, drivers are also required to stop and remain at the scene of an accident that causes property damage only (no injuries or deaths). A.R.S. Section 28-662 states that the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident that results only in damage to a vehicle that is attended by a person must immediately stop at the scene of the crash, as close as possible to the scene or immediately return to the accident scene. Then, the driver must remain at the scene until fulfilling the requirements of A.R.S. 28-663 (listed above). Failing to meet these requirements is a class 1 misdemeanor.

What if You Strike an Unattended Vehicle?

If you hit an unattended vehicle and cause property damage, A.R.S. 28-664 requires you to immediately stop and either 1) locate and notify the owner or operator of the vehicle or 2) leave a written notice in a conspicuous place on the vehicle that you hit. This notice should give your name and address. Violating this requirement is a class 1 misdemeanor.

What Else Should You Do at the Scene of an Accident? 

Fulfilling Arizona’s driver requirements after a car accident is just step one. To fully protect your rights, you should also take photographs and videos while you are at the scene, search for footage of the accident from nearby businesses or traffic cameras, speak to eyewitnesses and collect their information, tell your side of the story to the reporting police officer, write down your police report number, and go to a hospital for injury treatment. Then, when you are ready to begin the car insurance claims process, contact a car and truck accident attorney in Scottsdale at Stone Rose Law for assistance.