Accident Involving Damage to Vehicle is a driving offense where a person is charged for failing to take action (or do certain things) after an accident. Under this law, there are three things a person must do after an accident:
Notice that the last item listed requires compliance with another code section, Section 550.023. This section deals with the Failure to Render Aid, a different offense involving an accident with injury. Under that section, a driver must give their name and address, the registration number of the vehicle, and the name of the insurance company to the other party. Also, if requested (and curiously, only if available to the driver), show their driver's license. Lastly, the driver must provide any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance. In this context, the "driver" means the person driving a vehicle that is the suspect or accused.
Accident Involving Damage to Vehicle is one of those offenses that unfortauntly comes down to who calls the police first. Often, with minor accidents, a complaint files a police charge -- not at the time of the accident -- but after an insurance claim in denied. But because prosecutors will have an actual 'victim' on the case, they will be reluctant to dismiss. Usually, paying restitution for the other person's deductable is a prosecutor's prerequisite to getting a case reduced or dimissed.
Documentation is key in Accident Involving Damage to Vehicle cases, including taking your own photos soon after the accident, keeping insurance records, statements, and civil proceedings, if it goes that far. It's important to note that Accident Involving Damage to Vehicle only deals with accidents without injury to the drivers. If there is an injury, the offense could be changed to a Felony.
If you're looking for other offenses that are related to this one, you can see more information below, or click related legal offenses.
Accident Involving Damage to Vehicle arrests will usually result in jail -- and a bail bond will be required for release from Jail. An Attorney can help obtain a Personal Bond for Accident Involving Damage to Vehicle by arguing to a Judge for release. This will require hiring the attorney for both the jail release and represention on the case itself; although typically the jail release fee is the deposit for representation.
Sometimes an officer will file arrest warrant for Accident Involving Damage to Vehicle, which will require a Walkthrough to clear the Arrest Warrant. Doing a Walkthrough quickly is important, because most of the time a person does not go into the jail during the surrender process. Call us for more details if you have an active Travis County Arrest Warrant for Accident Involving Damage to Vehicle.
Keates Law Firm can act quickly to assist with a personal bond to release that person. Be sure to read more about Bond, Personal Bonds, and Travis County Jail Releases.
Defenses often include that there was no safe place to immediately stop. In fact, the statute actually addresses situations on highways or other roads that do not have safe areas to stop. Subsection (b) states that if an accident occurs on a "main lane, ramp, shoulder, median, or adjacent area of a freeway in a metropolitan area," then the driver may move the car (assuming it can be driven) to a suitable location.
'Suitable' would depend on the road, traffic, and areas nearby, but the statute specifically lists, "if available, a location on the frontage road, the nearest suitable cross street, or other suitable location..." Lastly, the statute does mention an effort to "minimize interference with freeway traffic" which can be important in cases where an accident occurs in a high traffic area.
If you'd like to talk in detail about your situation, or if you have questions, contact us for a Free Case Consultation. Keep in mind, Keates Law Firm only practices in Austin and Travis County.
Hiring the right attorney from the beginning is important. Poor legal decisions will have a negative effect upon the case as it progresses. The Keates Law Firm has over 16+ Years Experience handling Accident Involving Damage to Vehicle cases. Our focus is to try and have the case dismissed against you. We don't even discuss pleas until all legal and negotiation options have been explored in detail.
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Your goal should be Dismissal for any Accident Involving Damage to Vehicle charge. While not every case can be dismissed, often times the goal becomes avoiding jail, or getting a reduced charge, or even getting a favorable probation with a possible dismissal at the end, called Deferred Adjudication. If dismissed, a person can later seek an Expunction of a Criminal Record, which is where a Judge Orders the offense records destroyed, including police reports, court records, and prosecutor files.
Likewise, if Deferred Adjudication is successfully completed, the person can have thier record sealed through Motions for NonDisclosure.
(a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), the operator of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to a vehicle that is driven or attended by a person shall:
(1) immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible to the scene of the accident without obstructing traffic more than is necessary;
(2) immediately return to the scene of the accident if the vehicle is not stopped at the scene of the accident; and
(3) remain at the scene of the accident until the operator complies with the requirements of Section 550.023.
(b) If an accident occurs on a main lane, ramp, shoulder, median, or adjacent area of a freeway in a metropolitan area and each vehicle involved can be normally and safely driven, each operator shall move the operator's vehicle as soon as possible to a designated accident investigation site, if available, a location on the frontage road, the nearest suitable cross street, or other suitable location to complete the requirements of Section 550.023 and minimize interference with freeway traffic.
Punishments for a DWLI or DWLS are generally fines and court costs; rarely in Austin does a Accident Involving Damage to Vehicle ticket result in jail time or probation, especially if you have an attorney who can help you get a valid license or Occupational License.
|Level of Offense||Punishment|
|Class C Misdemeanor||Not Jailable, No more than $500 fines|
|Class B Misdemeanor||Not more than 180 days in a county jail, and/or no more than $2,000 fines|
|Class A Misdemeanor||Not more than 1 year in a county jail, and/or no more than $4,000 fines|
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