WHAT IS ACCIDENT CAUSING INJURY OR DEATH (FAILURE TO STOP AND RENDER AID) IN TEXAS?
The Texas Transportation Code requires drivers to stop immediately after a collision resulting in property damage and possible injuries to others. Those involved must exchange names and insurance information, and determine whether anyone is in need of medical assistance. Texas law punishes the failure to stop and render aid.
WHAT IS THE ACCIDENT CAUSING INJURY OR DEATH (FAILURE TO STOP AND RENDER AID) LAW IN TEXAS?
Tex. Transp. Code § 550.021. ACCIDENT INVOLVING PERSONAL INJURY OR DEATH.
(a) The operator of a vehicle involved in an accident that results or is reasonably likely to result in injury to or death of a person shall:
(1) immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close to the scene as possible;
(2) immediately return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident;
(3) immediately determine whether a person is involved in the accident, and if a person is involved in the accident, whether that person requires aid; and
(4) remain at the scene of the accident until the operator complies with the requirements of Section 550.023.
(b) An operator of a vehicle required to stop the vehicle by Subsection (a) shall do so without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.
(c) A person commits an offense if the person does not stop or does not comply with the requirements of this section. An offense under this section:
(1) involving an accident resulting in:
(A) death of a person is a felony of the second degree; or
(B) serious bodily injury to a person is a felony of the third degree; and
(2) involving an accident resulting in injury to which Subdivision (1) does not apply is punishable by:
(A) imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for not more than five years or confinement in the county jail for not more than one year;
(B) a fine not to exceed $5,000; or
(C) both the fine and the imprisonment or confinement.
Tex. Transp. Code § 550.023. DUTY TO GIVE INFORMATION AND RENDER AID.
The operator of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in the injury or death of a person or damage to a vehicle that is driven or attended by a person shall:
(1) give the operator’s name and address, the registration number of the vehicle the operator was driving, and the name of the operator’s motor vehicle liability insurer to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision;
(2) if requested and available, show the operator’s driver’s license to a person described by Subdivision (1); and
(3) provide any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including transporting or making arrangements for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation.
WHAT IS THE PENALTY CLASS FOR ACCIDENT CAUSING INJURY OR DEATH (FAILURE TO STOP AND RENDER AID) IN TEXAS?
Failure to stop and render aid is penalized based on the extent of the injury suffered by the other person involved. If the accused leaves the scene of a crash in which another suffers:
- second degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years in prison;
- serious bodily injury:
- third degree felony, punishable by two to ten years in prison;
- bodily injury:
- hybrid felony, punishable by up to one year in county jail, or up to five years in prison.
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT RANGE FOR ACCIDENT CAUSING INJURY OR DEATH (FAILURE TO STOP AND RENDER AID) IN TEXAS?
The punishment range for leaving the scene of an accident, regardless of fault, depends on the severity of injury suffered by any other person involved.
- Hybrid felony (if anyone suffers bodily injury in the crash):
- up to one year in jail, or up to five years in prison, and a maximum $5,000 fine;
- Third degree felony (if anyone suffers serious bodily injury):
- two to ten years in prison, maximum $10,000 fine;
- Second degree felony (if anyone suffers death):
- two to 20 years in prison, maximum $10,000 fine.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR ACCIDENT CAUSING INJURY OR DEATH (FAILURE TO STOP AND RENDER AID) IN TEXAS?
A person charged with leaving the scene of an accident may be eligible for probation after a conviction, or deferred adjudication without a conviction, for a period not to exceed ten years.
Pursuant to Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 42A.516, a person placed on community supervision for leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in another’s death must serve at least 120 days in jail as a condition of probation.
WHAT ARE THE DEFENSES TO ACCIDENT CAUSING INJURY OR DEATH (FAILURE TO STOP AND RENDER AID) IN TEXAS?
A person accused of failure to stop and render aid may assert any justification defense, but typically asserts he or she was unaware the crash occurred.
- What is the mistake-of-fact defense? Texas Penal Code Section 8.02 provides a mistake-of-fact defense if the person mistakenly formed a reasonable belief about a fact that negated the kind of culpability required to commit the alleged offense, he or she may raise the mistake-of-fact defense.For example, in Curry v. State, the defendant hit a cyclist and kept going. The cyclist died, and the driver was convicted of failure to stop and render aid. He claimed he did not know he hit someone, but the trial court refused a mistake-of-fact instruction. The appellate court reversed, holding the jury should have been permitted to decide whether they believed the defendant’s mistaken belief. Because drivers involved in accidents must stop to determine whether anyone else was involved, or hurt, a driver’s mistaken belief that he had not hit anything would negate the required mental culpability.
WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR ACCIDENT CAUSING INJURY OR DEATH (FAILURE TO STOP AND RENDER AID) IN TEXAS?
There is no limitation period for failure to stop and render aid if the crash resulted in another’s death. If the crash did not result in death, the limitation period is three years.
ACCIDENT CAUSING INJURY OR DEATH (FAILURE TO STOP AND RENDER AID) IN TEXAS
In Texas, drivers involved in car accidents must remain at the scene to provide their names and insurance information, and determine whether anyone needs medical assistance. The failure to do so is punishable by criminal penalties, which depend on the damages and injuries resulting from the accident.
TEXAS ACCIDENT CAUSING INJURY OR DEATH (FAILURE TO STOP AND RENDER AID) COURT CASES
The case law regarding failure to stop and render aid in Texas illustrates the statute’s application.
- In Davis v. State, the victim’s friend was driving home after they spent time out at a club. The car was hit by another driver who did not stop, so they pulled over and called 911. While waiting on police, the defendant struck the stalled vehicle, and the victim, who was sitting on the side of the road next to the car. The victim died, and the defendant kept going until her car broke down several miles away. Witnesses who saw the crash and followed the defendant called police. She was convicted of intoxication manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident, and the appellate court affirmed.