Vehicle Code 20001 & 20002 VC
VC 20001-20002 – Hit & Run in California
Hit & Run in California – Table of Contents
- VC 20001-20002 Overview
- VC 20001-20002 Misdemeanor
- VC 20001-20002 Misdemeanor Penalties
- VC 20001-20002 Felony
- VC 20001-20002 Felony Penalties
- VC 20001-20002 Defending
- Hit & Run in California – Hire Us
Vehicle Code 20001 – 20002 – Hit & Run Laws In California
If you are a driver involved in a car accident, Hit & Run in California Vehicle Code requires you to identify yourself to all parties involved.
Any driver who drives off from the scene of an accident they were involved in without identifying themselves can be charged with a hit & run under either Vehicle Code 20001 VC or Vehicle Code 20002 VC.
Conditions and Types of Accidents under VC 20001 and 20002
Vehicle Code Section 20002 VC makes it a misdemeanor for the driver to leave the scene of an accident without identifying yourself where the property was damaged.
Vehicle Code Section 20001 VC, on the other hand, makes it a misdemeanor or a felony in some circumstances for the driver to leave the scene of an accident where injury to another person occurred.
You should know that the amount of damage sustained, injury inflicted, who was at fault, or any other circumstances surrounding how the accident happened do not change your duty to stop and identify yourself to everyone involved.
Both Vehicle Code 20002 and Vehicle Code 20002 require the driver to do the following if they are associated with an accident:
- Identify yourself by name
- Provide other drivers with your current address (not just the address on your license).
- Provide other drivers with a copy of your registration on request
If an accident involves a vehicle that was parked and the owner was not present. California Vehicle Code Section 20002 VC demands that the driver place an easily visible note with your identifying information, along with the address of the vehicle’s registered owner, if you do not own the car you were driving at that moment.
You must also place a call to the local police department and/or California Highway Patrol.
Misdemeanor Hit and Run in California – VC 20002
According to Vehicle Code Section 20002, a misdemeanor hit and run in California is a failure to stop and properly identify yourself after an accident that only results in property damage.
Common Examples of Misdemeanor Hit and Run in California
- Albert is driving to work behind Beatrice. Beatrice, in a rush and late to work because of a long line at the local coffee shop, dumps hot coffee into her lap and slams on her brakes in a panic. As a result of Beatrice’s sudden and unexpected heavy braking, Albert is unable to stop in time and makes contact with Beatrice’s rear bumper. Albert gets out of his car, and seeing only a minor dent in Beatrice’s bumper, no damage to his own vehicle, and believing Beatrice to be at fault for the accident anyway, continues driving to work.
- Charlie has never been good at parallel parking, but sees a spot that seems large enough to park his truck. As Charlie is backing into the space, he scrapes the side of a compact car. Charlie does not see the compact car’s owner, so he runs an errand hoping to run into the car’s owner when he returns. When Charlie comes back, the other car’s owner is still not there. Charlie did not have more time to wait so he drove away without leaving a note.
Albert has committed misdemeanor hit and run in California. Who was at fault in this example is irrelevant. Albert hit Beatrice’s bumper, her bumper was damaged, and Albert left.
Charlie has committed misdemeanor hit and run in California. Once Charlie damaged the other vehicle, he had a duty to leave a note with his identifying information, and the information of the registered owner of the truck if Charlie did not own it. Charlie was guilty of hit and run when he left to run his errand, not just when he drove his truck away. It is irrelevant that Charlie intended to return.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Hit and Run in California
Vehicle Code Section 20002 as a Misdemeanor
A person convicted for a misdemeanor hit and run in violation of Vehicle Code Section 20002 can be sentenced to:
- Up to 6 months in county jail.
- A fine of up to $1,000.00.
- A restitution order to cover any damage you caused
- Up to 3 years of summary probation.
- AND two mandatory points on your driving record.
- OR ALL OF THE ABOVE.
Vehicle Code Section 20001 as a Misdemeanor
- Up to 1 year in county jail, with a likely minimum of 90 days.
- A fine of no less than $1,000.00, but no more than $10,000.00.
- A restitution order to cover any damage you caused.
- AND two mandatory points on your driving record.
- OR ALL OF THE ABOVE.
Felony Hit and Run – VC 20001
A hit and run in California can also be charged as a felony under California Vehicle Code Section 20001 VC, if:
- There has been a failure to exchange information
- Another person has been injured.
What this means is that if you are in an accident where another person has been injured, and you do not exchange personal information as required above, then you may be charged with a felony under Vehicle Code 20001.
You should be aware that the prosecutor will have a great deal of discretion in how to charge a violation under Vehicle Code Section 20001 VC, and if the offense should be punished more severely for permanent serious injury.
Common Examples of Felony Hit and Run under Vehicle Code 20001
- Albert and Beatrice are involved in an accident due to Beatrice’s bad driving. As a result of the accident, Beatrice suffers a serious head injury resulting in permanent blindness in both eyes. Albert’s car was not seriously damaged, but he is angry at Beatrice’s bad driving and how it dented his new luxury car, so Albert leaves the scene without exchanging information.
- Charlie and Dave are involved in an accident where Charlie ran a red light and collided with Dave’s brand new car, rendering Dave’s car un-drivable. Dave suffers a large and deep cut that will heal without scarring and several bruises with no permanent injury. Charlie breaks his arm. Out of fear of the financial consequences of the accident, Charlie leaves without exchanging information as required.
Albert has likely committed a hit and run in California that will not only be charged as a felony, but may carry enhanced punishment because of the seriousness of Beatrice’s injuries. Just as in the example we examined above, it does not matter who is at fault, all involved parties must exchange information after the accident.
Because Charlie left the scene of an accident involving injury to a person other than himself, Charlie may be charged with felony hit and run Vehicle Code 20001 & 20002 in California. The prosecutor has wide discretion, based on the facts and circumstances, to decide if Charlie will be charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor. Based on the severity of Dave’s injury, he suffered a large deep cut, this case would likely be charged as a felony. However, since none of Dave’s injuries were permanent, the increased penalties for serious permanent injury will not be an option.
Penalties for Felony Hit and Run in California under VC 20001
- A fine of no less than $1,000.00 but no more than $10,000.00.
- AND between 16 months and 3 years in state prison. If there was permanent serious injury or death to someone other than the person who fled the scene of the accident, then the prison term will be 2, 3, or 4 years.
Possible Defense for Vehicle Code 20001 and Vehicle 20002
Only Defendant Injured
Vehicle Code Sections 20001 VC and 20002 VC require property damage and/or injury to someone other than the person who failed to exchange the required information at the scene of the accident. If your car is the only one damaged or you are the only one injured. A hit and run charge under Vehicle Code Sections 20001 VC and 20002 VC may not be appropriate.
You Were Not Driving
Perhaps you had loaned out your registered car to a friend or family member for the afternoon, and they committed a hit and run, or you happened to be in the car, accused of the hit and run, and the guilty party sped off so fast that a witness only saw you and mistook you for the driver.
If you fall into any of these categories, you should not be liable for charges under California Vehicle Code Sections 20001 VC and 20002 VC.
Left Under Duress
This is another valid argument the defendant can use to argue their charges under Vehicle Codes 20001 VC and 20001 VC. If the defendant reasonably believed their safety or life was in danger and had to flee the scene of an accident, they can use this to defend themselves in court.
We highly advise you to consult a licensed hit and run criminal defense attorney who will examine your case and determine what defenses apply to your particular case, and if there are alternatives they can use to help you avoid serving time in jail.
Lack of Accident Information
Sections 20001 and 20002 require property damage and/or injury to someone other than the person who failed to exchange the required information at the scene of the accident. If your car is the only one damaged, or you are the only one injured, a hit and run Vehicle Code 20001 & 20002 in California charge may not be appropriate. You should consult a licensed hit and run attorney who will examine your case and determine if any defenses apply in your case and if there are alternatives to serving time in jail.
We Want to Help
If you or a loved one is being charged with a hit and run in violation of Vehicle Code Sections 20001 VC and 20002 VC, we invite you to contact us immediately for a free case review. Schedule an appointment to meet with us in person, or feel free to submit an evaluation online, and we will get in contact with you ASAP. We can provide a free consultation in our office located in Century City or by phone. Our experiences and assiduous Hit and Run, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys will be sure to fight until the end to reduce or drop your hit and run charges completely.
Call Us for a FREE Case Review: 310-274-6529
How to Win Your Case
We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:
- Don’t ever talk to the police
- Do not discuss your case with anyone
- Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
- Tell police you need to contact your attorney
- Never consent to any search by the police
- If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
- Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
- Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
- Information on your cell phone is evidence
- Early Intervention is the key