IS THERE A GRACE PERIOD AFTER AN ACCIDENT BEFORE A DRIVER HAS TO CALL THE POLICE?
The 24-hour “grace period” rule only applies to accidents that happen on public or private property that is NOT a public road or highway. In other words, if you are in an accident on public road or highway, there is no 24-hour grace period. On a public road, you are required to stop immediately and provide your information to the other driver.
On private roads, private property, or public property that isn’t a public road, there is a 24-hour grace period.
ORC 4549.021 sets out the rules for hit skip (failure to stop after an accident) on private property, public property, or any other property that is not a public road or highway:
- If there is an injury or property damage, the drover must stop and provide their information (name and address, registered number of the vehicle).
- If the driver doesn’t provide this information to the other driver, he or she has 24 hours after the accident to provide that information to the police or sheriff.
- If the driver hit an unoccupied car, he or she should leave a note with the required information.
RECENT OHIO CASE FINDS NO HIT SKIP IN ONE-CAR ACCIDENT ON PROPERTY NEXT TO A STREET WHERE DRIVER WAS WITHIN 24-HOUR REPORTING PERIOD
The Court of Appeals for the State of Ohio recently overturned a conviction for leaving the scene of an accident (Hit/Skip) because the prosecution failed to show the Defendant satisfied every element necessary to be guilty of Hit/Skip. State v. Teeple, 2018-Ohio-1767
In Teeple, officers were dispatched to an accident where a vehicle allegedly slid off the side of the road and damaged property after sliding off the road. Officers arrived on scene but could not locate the vehicle in question. A witness alerted the officers that a vehicle matching the description of the one involved in the accident was located in a nearby parking lot. The officers searched the parking lot and located the Defendant. The officers cited the Defendant for leaving the scene of an accident. He was found guilty and appealed his conviction.
OHIO’S HIT SKIP LAW
Ohio Revised Code Section 4549.02 defines when a driver is guilty of leaving the scene of an accident, or Hit/Skip. The statute states that when a driver is causes an accident on a public road, the driver must alert all of the following:
- Any person injured in the accident or collision
- The operator, occupant, owner, or attendant of any motor vehicle damaged in the accident or collision
- The police officer at the scene of the accident or collision.
The Defendant in Teeple argued that he could not be guilty of leaving the scene of an accident under 4549.02 because the state could not show any of the elements needed to prove guilt. The Defendant slid off the road and demonstrated the accident occurred on the property adjacent to the street and not on the public road. The Defendant was involved in a one-car accident, so it was impossible to notify the an injured party or the owner of any other motor vehicle damaged in the accident.
The State agued the Defendant left the scene before law enforcement officers arrived, and was guilty of Hit/Skip for failing to alert law enforcement to the accident. Though the Defendant was located by law enforcement in a nearby parking lot after he had been in an accident, ythe Court in Teeple noted the Defendant’s ticket indicates the Defendant was given the ticket on the same day the accident occurred, and the Defendant had a 24-hour window to report an accident to the police. Ohio Revised Code Section 4549.021.
The Court concluded the Defendant was improperly cited for Hit/Skip because the Defendant’s accident failed to meet the elements necessary to prove guilt under Ohio Revised Code Section 4549.02. The Court held the facts of this case seem more like a violation of Ohio Revised Code Section 4549.03 as they involve a collision with property located adjacent to a highway, and the Defendant was still well within the 24-hour period for reporting such an accident when he was arrested. State v. Teeple, 2018-Ohio-1767, citing State v. Spence, 2002-Ohio-3600.
It is important to contact an attorney who is knowledgeable about all possible defenses available to you in a hit skip case, including whether the state can prove every element of the offense you are being charged with. If you have questions about your Columbus traffic or criminal charges, talk to our defense attorneys at 614-361-2804.