Hit-and-run causing only property damage is a misdemeanor under Nevada law, carrying up to 6 months in jail and/or $1,000 in fines. But if someone gets hurt or killed, fleeing the scene of an accident is a category B felony in Nevada with penalties of 2 to 20 years in prison and $2,000 to $5,000 in fines.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What are my legal duties after a car accident?
- 2. What are the hit-and-run penalties in Nevada?
- 3. How do I fight the charges?
- 4. When can my criminal record be sealed?
- 5. Can the victim of a hit-and-run file a lawsuit?
1. What are my legal duties after a car accident?
Following a car crash in Nevada, drivers should immediately stop at the scene of the accident. If their vehicle is creating a hazard or blocking traffic, they should move their vehicle to a safe location if possible. State law then requires drivers to:
- Provide their name, address, and vehicle registration number to the other driver(s) involved. Upon request, drivers should also show their driver’s license; and
- Provide their name, address, vehicle registration number, and licenses to any police at the scene; and
- Render aid to any injured people. Examples include carrying them to safety and/or calling an ambulance.1
If drivers hit unattended property – such as a parked car or a fence – then they must immediately stop and try to find the property owner. Failing that, drivers must then leave a conspicuous note with their name, the vehicle’s owner’s name (if different from the driver), and address.2
Nevada law enforcement must be notified about any car accident that results in either death, bodily injury, or property damage of $750 or more. If police arrive at the scene of the accident and file an accident report themselves, then the drivers involved do not have to file a report as well. But if police officers are not present at the crash, then drivers have 10 days from the date of the accident to submit a Nevada DMV SR-1 accident report.3
If a car accident in Nevada leaves the driver physically incapable of making a report, he/she does not have to file one until he/she regains capacity. And if the driver is different from the car’s owner – and the driver is incapacitated – then the owner is required to file the report within 10 days after becoming aware of the accident.4
Note that failing to make an accident report if necessary results in a license suspension of up to one year. And submitting a false report is a gross misdemeanor, carrying up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines.5
2. What are the hit-and-run penalties in Nevada?
2.1. Only property damage
Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in only property damage is a misdemeanor in Nevada. The sentence is:
- Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines6
In addition, the DMV punishes drivers in hit-and-run crashes by adding six demerit points to their driver’s license. If a person accrues 12 or more points in a year, the DMV will impose a six-month license suspension.7
2.2. Injuries or death
Leaving the scene of an accident resulting in bodily injury or death is a category B felony in Nevada. The sentence is:
- 2 to 20 years in Nevada State Prison, and
- $2,000 to $5,000 in fines, and
- A driver’s license revocation
Defendants face separate hit-and-run charges for every person injured or killed in one accident. And the court may not suspend the prison sentence or grant probation.8
3. How do I fight the charges?
The best defenses to Nevada charges for leaving the scene of an accident depend on the specific facts of the case. Depending on the situation, the defendant may be able to argue that:
- The defendant was not involved in the accident and therefore had no duties to stop;
- The defendant did not know he/she was involved in an accident;9
- The defendant sufficiently fulfilled all the statutory obligations of exchanging information and rendering aid;
- The defendant was too incapacitated after the accident to stop, exchange information, or render aid
Typical evidence in hit-and-run accident cases includes traffic surveillance video, mobile phone videos from people at the scene, GPS car data, and eyewitness accounts.
4. When can my criminal record be sealed?
Felony hit-and-run convictions may be sealed in Nevada five years after the case ends. Misdemeanor hit-and-run convictions may be sealed one year after the case ends. And if the charges get dismissed, then there is no wait before the defendant can petition for a record seal.10
5. Can the victim of a hit-and-run file a lawsuit?
Yes. Nevada car accident victims may file personal injury lawsuits against the alleged hit-and-run driver. In these cases, victims typically sue the driver (“defendant”) for negligence per se. In order to prevail, the victim (“plaintiff”) would need to prove that:
- There is a statute (the hit-and-run laws) that exists to protect a class of persons;
- The plaintiff was a member of that class (a fellow motorist, car occupant, pedestrian, etc.);
- The defendant violated the law or statute (by not stopping at the crash site); and
- The defendant’s violation of the law proximately caused the plaintiff’s injuries or damage.11
If successful, the plaintiff’s car accident attorneys may be able to recover financial compensation to cover all the plaintiff’s medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earnings, and pain and suffering.
In some hit-and-run cases, police can never locate the driver who fled. And even if they do, the driver may have little or no car insurance anyway. That is why everyone is advised to carry uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). As long as the insured was not the one at fault, the UM/UIM insurance company can reimburse him/her for any compensatory damages within the policy limits.
Arrested for not stopping at an accident scene? Call our Las Vegas hit and run attorneys to discuss how we may be able to get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed. We serve clients throughout the Las Vegas Valley and the Clark County, Nye County, and Washoe County areas.
- NRS 484E.010; NRS 484E.020; NRS 484E.030.
- NRS 484E.040.
- NRS 484E.050; NRS 484E.060; NRS 484E.070.
- NRS 484E.080.
- NRS 484A.900.
- NAC 483.510; NRS 483.448.
- NRS 484C.010.
- Clancy v. State, (2013) 129 Nev. 840, 313 P.3d 226, 129 Nev. Adv. Rep. 89.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.
- Barnes v. Delta Lines, Inc, (1983) 99 Nev. 688; Nevada Jury Instructions 4.12.