It was reported last week that a pedestrian was killed in Phoenix when she was struck by a vehicle at an intersection. The driver of the car, according to police, did not stop after hitting the young woman. Rather, he proceeded to the parking lot of nearby Frys, ostensibly to check the damage to his vehicle. They say a witness to the collision followed the man, and when he attempted to leave the parking lot he was stopped by police and arrested. The man is currently facing charges of manslaughter and “hit-and-run.” According to the arrest report, the driver was allegedly under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time, so additional charges may be filed.
The manslaughter charge would be expected in a case like this, but many people are unaware of the seriousness of failing to stop at the scene of an accident. A.R.S. 28-661 and 28-663 lay out the responsibilities of a driver involved in an auto accident resulting in injuries or death. They include stopping until you have provided information (name, address, registration), exhibited your license, and rendered assistance to any injured person. There are a number of potential violations of these laws, and the penalties might surprise you. In fact, depending upon the existence and extent of any injuries, and whether someone died in the accident, failure to comply with one or more of these requirements could result in a charge that ranges from a class 3 misdemeanor to a class 2 felony.
Probably the most noteworthy aspect of the hit-and-run law (leaving the scene) is that the classification, depending upon the circumstances, could be as high as the classification for manslaughter. But there is another factor that should be mentioned. In the Phoenix case, the report says that the woman who was killed was crossing the street at a marked crosswalk; it also says that the driver showed signs of being intoxicated (no further information was provided on the DUI allegation). And those are significant allegations as far as the manslaughter charge is concerned. But let’s assume that the allegations are proven to be incorrect, that the driver did nothing that caused the accident, and that he is found not guilty on the manslaughter charge. He nevertheless will have to deal with the hit-and-run charge, which is still a serious felony.
The Feldman Law Firm PLLC
1 E. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004