By: William C. Head, Hit and Run Georgia Lawyer Since 1976
A Georgia 911 center receives this call from a frantic citizen: “Someone hit my parked car and left!” The police dispatcher may be able to see the geo-position of that caller’s cell phone, but will ask “What is the location of this collision?” Law enforcement personnel are trained that drivers engaging in illegal acts at the time of any roadway accident are probably more likely to flee the scene.
The type of call for hit and run of a parked car happens daily, as well as many hit and run cases of occupied vehicles in Georgia. Except in rural areas, where hitting parked cars is rare, you can expect an eyewitness or video device to document or witness the accident.
Three possible answers explain 95% of all hit and run accident parked car cases:
1. The driver responsible for the damaged was concerned about the hit & run parked car punishment and whether this was a misdemeanor or felony;
2. The driver knew that he or she was in violation of one or more laws, like drunk driving, “no insurance” (driving without car insurance), reckless driving GA; or
3. Pure panic set in, and this type of emergency problem caused the at fault driver to simply “run from the problem.”
This page discusses the criminal law repercussions for all variations of how leaving the scene of an accident GA creates potential criminal penalties. Certain factors are critically important in determining whether the hit and run is going to be a felony or misdemeanor under Georgia law.
Some crashes occur with seasoned motorists misjudging a clearance between vehicles traveling at a speed that won’t let the driver successfully negotiate a turn. Some cases are attributable to distracted driving, or texting while driving. Plus, especially at night, many hit & runs are attributable to a driver using alcohol or drugs.
The good news for most readers of this article is that most hit and run for parked car incidents are only a simple misdemeanor motor vehicle charge. Once your auto insurance company (or you, out-of-pocket) settle the damages, the penalty of hit and run of a parked car is insignificant.
Potential felonies can occur whenever the responsible driver strikes and OCCUPIED vehicle and injures or causes the death of another human being. In these cases, a Georgia district attorney will allege either 40-6-270 (hit and run), DUI in Georgia (40-6-391) or reckless driving under 40-6-390 as the “predicate driving offense.”
Georgia Hit and Run Laws Relating to a Parked Car
The average citizen has heard the phrase “hit and run” and knows that this means a crime has been committed. If you were the victim and this happened to your vehicle, you’d be thinking, “why wouldn’t that hit & run driver stop and give his or her liability insurance information?”
Our imaginations turn to a possible drunk driver or someone driving recklessly, before running from the scene and fail to call the police. In fact, however, about 3 out of 4 leaving the scene of an accident cases occur to a parked, unoccupied vehicle. These are basic traffic offenses in the same category as speeding or running a stop sign.
When you Google “parked car,” most questions being posed are for one of two situations. It is either being asked by the owner of the damaged vehicle or by the culprit who knows he or she did wrong. Our criminal defense attorneys represent this second group of people who have violated Georgia traffic laws for “Georgia hit and run parked car.”
Our attorneys in Atlanta don’t represent the owners seeking to sue for their property damages under their uninsured motorist coverage. Nor will our Atlanta lawyers undertake representation of an at fault driver wanting to offset his or her insurance deductible. Our Atlanta attorneys handle criminal defense law for those needing legal representation.
Georgia Hit and Run: Is Leaving the Scene of an Accident a Felony?
Parking lot crashes represent a lot of minor hit and run cases. As one vehicle is trying to ge in or out of a parking space, contact between vehicle occurs. Some people trying to justify what happened, and not leave a note will write the fender bender as being “too minor.” Some scofflaws will rationalize that dents and dings in parking lots are part of the price of living in urban America.
Anyone who has paid a body repair bill knows that there is no such thing as ‘minor damage’. You need to know what to do whether your car is struck or you hit someone else’s vehicle. Don’t file a claim under your company’s collision coverage until you speak to an experienced hit and run lawyer.
Seven Scenarios our Criminal Justice Attorneys have handled for Clients facing Misdemeanor vs Felony Charges
In our law office, cases begin from similar fact patterns. Some want to know the penalty for hit and run parked car, but most are dealing with hit and run two-vehicle crashes. for hit and run parked car
1. “I hit a car in a parking lot and left the scene”
Some callers start their call by saying they need legal help in defending “the hit and run of a parked car, no witness.” These are common calls that we receive each month.
The person is worried about being tracked down and either being arrested, or the charges becoming more serious by hiding and not coming forward. In almost all such cases we can “fix” these cases. Our criminal lawyers near me can possibly assist by having you pay out of pocket for the repairs or getting your liability coverage to handle the claim.
2. “A police officer called me to ask about a DUI hit and run of my parked car Georgia crime”
Our criminal lawyers always will undertake to “work out” a leaving the scene case without involving the criminal justice system. If the call to the client comes from the person whose car was damaged, versus from police, our attorneys in Atlanta GA can assist you. This may not ever become a police matter.
But, if you get such a call from a law enforcement officer on the hit and run unit, DO NOT TALK about the case. Get the officer’s name and number and then hang up and call an attorney. Let your lawyer do the talking.
3. The potential client tells our intake paralegal, “I hit a parked car and drove away, but I think someone DID get my tag number.” If not an eyewitness, maybe your car type and tag number was captured by a Ring doorbell video or premises camera. This happens far more often than people realize, in densely populated areas.
4. Someone hit my car and drove off, but when I called police, they arrested me for a DUI. Yes, if police come to the scene and smell alcohol or marijuana, a driving under the influence investigation will be taking place, against you.
Limit your conversations with the police. Your name and address (and possibly proving your liability insurance coverage) is all that needs to be discussed. You can ask to call a lawyer, but that will almost always be denied.
No field tests are required by law, so DO NOT try to perform any. If you captured the other driver’s tag number, provide that to the officer. Don’t include giving an explanation of how the crash happened, because this could lead to the officer claiming you had slurred speech.
5. The Pedestrian I killed stepped off the curb and I could not avoid hitting him
“When I hit the homeless man that walked in front of my car, it was not my fault. But I panicked and drove away after I saw that he was dead.”
6. My car was rear-ended by a hit and run driver, but I was asleep in a parking space. How can this DUI arrest be proper when I was not driving?
The answer is YES to the age-old question of “Can you get a DUI in a parked car?” An officer need not see a vehicle in motion for the crime to be accused in the Peach State.
7. In the very few calls that our law firm has processed on a “hit and run car no witness” report, our advice is usually FREE, initially. Why is that? Because until someone gets in touch with you, the crime may remain undetected.
In some cases, however, our client had a body shop fix the damages surreptitiously, and then police came along searching for any body shop that fixed front end collision on a 2016 Lexus 300 (that the broken off headlamp showed was the hit and run vehicle.) These cases can be serious, for trying to cover up the crime If a victim has died, expect to face up to 20 years in State prison.