If you have been driving for any length of time, it is likely that you have been involved in some type of fender bender or perhaps even a crash involving injury. However, since this doesn't happen frequently, you may forget just what your responsibilities are.
If you are involved in an incident where no one is hurt AND there is no damage to either vehicle or to anyone's property, you have no obligation to report the incident. However, if you have caused any damage to the real property or to the personal property of someone else, you are under legal obligation to stop and give your name, address, insurance carrier and insurance identification information to the other driver. You must also show your license to the other driver. This is required under section 600(1)(a) of Vehicle and Traffic Law. Additionally, the law requires any enforcement officer on the scene to assist the involved drivers in exchanging the required information.
If the damage you have caused is to property along the road, such as a rural mailbox, you must notify the owner of this damaged property.
If the person (or persons) sustaining the damage is not present where the damage occurred, you must report the incident as soon as physically possible to the nearest police station or judicial officer.
Violation of this section is a traffic infraction, punishable by a fine of up to $250 plus surcharges and/or up to 15 days in jail. It also includes three points on your license.
If the incident includes personal injury, generally the same provisions about exchanging information apply. However, leaving the scene in the case of injury constitutes a class A misdemeanor under section 600-2a, punishable by a fine of $500 to $1,000 plus surcharges and/or up to a year in jail for the first offense, plus three points on your license. Subsequent convictions become a class E felony, and should you leave the scene of a personal injury accident resulting in death, you will be charged with a class D felony resulting in a fine of up to $5000 and jail time under Penal Law.
Section 601 of Vehicle and Traffic Law mandates proper notification when hitting certain animals. Anyone operating a motor vehicle that injures any horse, dog, cat or any animal classified as cattle must stop and endeavor to locate the owner or custodian of such animal, or if unable to do so, report the incident to a police officer. This law also mandates taking action to see that the injured animal gets proper attention. A conviction of this section results in a fine up to $100 plus surcharges for the first offense, and carries three points on your license.
Under section 601 sanctions are increased should the driver be convicted of leaving the scene involving injury to a guide dog, hearing dog, or service dog.
In all cases of leaving the scene of a property damage or personal injury incident, drivers holding a commercial driver's license will lose their license for at least one year.
For more articles on traffic law and safety, go to the traffic safety board's website at www.franklincony.org and click on "Traffic Safety Board" under departments then look for Did You Know articles under "services." "Like" us on Facebook as well.