Failure to Stop and Give Information Is a Damages Offense
Every day in the Greater Houston area, there are traffic accidents that result in drivers fleeing the scene. In Texas, a hit and run resulting in damage to a vehicle is known as a failure to stop and give information (FSGI). Many drivers are unaware that the Texas Transportation Code lays out certain duties a driver must comply with after an accident. If a driver is involved in an accident and does not comply with the requirements – most commonly by attempting to leave the scene – he can face serious criminal penalties and a permanent criminal record. Fortunately, an experienced hit and run attorney can help you navigate an FSGI case and protect your reputation and freedom.
What is A Hit & Run With Failure to Stop and Give Information in Texas?
In most cases, failure to stop and give information is what most people would refer to as a hit and run. Under Texas Transportation Code 550.022, after an accident that results in damage to a vehicle, a driver has the following responsibilities:
-Immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible to the scene of the accident.
-Immediately return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident; and
-Remain at the scene of the accident until information is exchanged (names, addresses, registration, insurance, driver’s license).
In the Houston area, failure to stop and give information is most commonly charged when a driver leaves or attempts to leave the scene. Typically, this happens when a driver is uninsured, intoxicated or has an open criminal warrant. If a hit and run involves injury or death, it is known as a Failure to Stop and Render Aid and is subject to much more serious penalties.
What are the potential penalties for Failure to Stop and Give Information?
The potential penalties for failure to stop and give information are based on the alleged damages to the vehicles involved. This is a Class C misdemeanor if the damages to all vehicles is less than $200 or a Class B misdemeanor if the damages to all vehicles involved is over $200.
How can I keep a case off of my record?
As in all criminal cases, a hit and run attorney will first need to obtain the evidence in order to evaluate the facts and establish the best defense. A common defense in these cases is that a person was not aware that an accident had taken place, and therefore did not intend to flee the scene of the accident.
Also, under Texas law, a driver actually has a duty to move away from the scene of the accident under certain circumstances. If, for example, a driver gets into a minor accident on a freeway, Texas Transportation Code 550.022(b) requires the driver to move to a designated accident investigation site or other nearby location to “minimize interference with freeway traffic.” Depending on the facts and location of a failure to stop and give information case, it can often be argued that a driver was simply trying to comply with the requirements of the statute and did not intend to flee the scene.
The goal of any FSGI case should always be to get the case dismissed. It is always up the prosecutor to dismiss a case, but an effective criminal defense attorney can make a dismissal more likely by investigating the facts of a case to show that a person is not guilty, or that the case cannot be proven. If a prosecutor will not dismiss a case, typically a person charged with failure to stop and give information will have to choose between a trial and a plea agreement. Having an experienced hit and run attorney on your side is critical to help obtain the best resolution of your case.
Contact the Experienced Houston Hit & Run Criminal Defense Attorney of Ceja Law Firm
Attorney Jose Ceja is a former prosecutor who has successfully defended failure to stop and give information cases throughout the Greater Houston area. If you or a loved one is charged with this violation, Ceja Law Firm would be happy to provide a free consultation. Contact our office today and speak to a lawyer.