This case demonstrates the importance of attention to detail and knowledge of Ohio traffic law in defending a traffic case. This case involved an accident on private property in which the driver was charged with failure to control and hit skip (failure to stop).
But because the officer charged and the prosecutor proceeded under the wrong Ohio statute (one that does not address failure to stop on private property), the hit skip conviction was overturned.
Driver Wrecked Car and Damaged Private Property
Defendant started driving on private property, crossed the street and entered another private property, hitting a patio and damaging fencing, furniture, landscaping, and a pine tree.
The owner of the damaged property testified that they lived far from the road. All damage was done on the private property – no damage was done on the roadway.
Ultimately, the defendant was initially charged with DUI, failure to stop after an accident (hit skip) under R.C. 4649.02 and failure to control in violation of R.C. 4511.202. After discussions with the prosecutor, the DUI was dismissed and the other two charges – failure to control and failure to stop (hit skip) went to trial.
At the end of the trial, the defendant moved to dismiss the hit skip charge (R.C. 4549.02) because the evidence did not establish a collision with persons or property upon a public road or highway.
Failure to Stop Charge Dismissed Because Officer / Prosecutor Proceeded Under Incorrect Hit Skip Statute
Under a R.C. 4549.02 a hit skip charge, the prosecutor must demonstrate evidence of damage to persons or property “upon any of the public roads or highways.”
There is a similar hit skip law concerning damage to private property – R.C. 4549.021 – which creates a “[d]uty to stop after accident occurring on property other than public highways” i.e., private property. However, this private property hit skip violation was not charged in this case.
The judge agreed. Because the charged statute – R.C. 2529.02 – applies only to a hit skip on public roads or highways, the conviction was overturned and hit skip charges dismissed.
State v. Mills, 2014-Ohio-3563.
If you are facing a hit skip charge, talk to one of our Columbus hit skip attorneys today about your case.