The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 10 million car accidents go unreported every year. When a driver is involved in an accident, even in the event of a single-vehicle accident, they are required to contact the appropriate authorities and remain at the scene until they arrive.
In New Jersey, failing to report an accident is a traffic violation that can have long-lasting effects on a driver’s finances, driving record, and personal life. These consequences become even more drastic when one of our experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC has over 250 years of defending drivers charged with traffic offenses from around the state. Let him fight for you. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.
Why are police called to an accident?
Every state has a requirement to report an accident that involves an injury or death. While most states require drivers to make a report with the Department of Motor Vehicles immediately, some states have a lengthier deadline, with Arizona’s being the longest deadline at 6 months.
In New Jersey, drivers are required to immediately contact the police when there is an accident that results in death, injury, or property damage of more than $500. Having a law enforcement officer on the scene allows information to be seamlessly shared between all parties involved and ensures the safety of all of those involved while information is being exchanged.
Officers are also able to use their training to collect information at the scene of the accident which can then be compiled into a report — along with statements from all parties and witnesses — that can be kept for your record or can be used in civil court in a lawsuit.
Consequences of failing to report an accident
New Jersey drivers are required to alert police of an accident they are involved in “by the quickest means of communication” according to N.J.S.A. 39:4-130. A driver involved in a car accident is also required to forward a written report to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC)within 10 days. The report should contain:
- The cause of the accident
- The conditions of the road, weather, vehicles, and drivers at the time of the accident
- The people and vehicles involved
This information will be used by the chief administrator to assess the accident. If the MVC believes the information included in the initial report is insufficient, it may require the driver to file supplementary documents provided with the MVC.
Failing to do so could result in a number of consequences and penalties, including:
- A fine of $30-$100
- Forfeiture or suspension of license and registration privileges.
- A fine of $250-$1,000 if any person is found to have concealed or destroyed evidence or have suppressed their identity.
Additionally, the statute indicates that being unaware of the extent of the property damage or personal injury as a result of the accident is not a valid defense “as long as the operator was aware that he was involved in an accident.”
If the driver is physically incapable of immediately reporting the accident or of making a written report, their passengers should notify authorities and make a report themselves. If the driver was alone at the time of the accident and is incapable of reporting the incident or making a report, the owner of the other vehicle should fulfill those duties.
Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney
Contact the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC as soon as possible to learn more about your legal options and defenses if you have been accused of or charged with failing to report an accident. Call (856) 245-5913 today to schedule a free consultation to speak with our experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney.