Leaving the Scene of an Accident – Hit and Run in SC

What should you do if you are in an accident in SC?

First, don’t leave the scene of the accident. Leaving the scene of an accident in SC, or “hit and run,” is a criminal offense that can carry up to 25 years in prison if it turns out that someone died. Even if no one was killed, you may be facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days and up to ten years in prison if you are convicted.

What does SC law say about leaving the scene of an accident/ hit and run? Below, I’ll go over some of SC’s leaving the scene laws and the potential penalties if you are convicted of leaving the scene, and what a driver’s duties are if they are involved in any type of accident on a SC highway.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident – Hit and Run in SC

Charges for leaving the scene of an accident can carry potential penalties of up to 25 years for the most serious offense. Even if no one was hurt, you may end up in jail once law enforcement finds you…

What are the Duties of a Driver Who Has Been Involved in an Accident?

SC Code Section 56-5-1210 says that a driver must:

  • Stop their vehicle at the scene of an accident or as close to it as possible;
  • Remain at the scene of the accident until they have complied with the requirements of 56-5-1230 (see below); and
  • Not obstruct traffic any more than is necessary.

Section 56-5-1230 says that, if you are involved in an accident that results in injury, death, or damage to an attended vehicle, you must:

  • Provide your name, address, and registration number of your vehicle;
  • Show your driver’s license to the other driver if requested; and
  • Provide assistance to anyone who is injured, including taking them or making arrangements to take them to the ER if necessary.

You can temporarily leave the scene if necessary to report the accident – for example, if no one has cell phones or there is no cell phone reception, but you must immediately return to the scene of the accident.

Unattended Vehicles

The rules above apply if you are involved in an accident with an attended vehicle, whether someone was hurt or there was only property damage. What about an unattended vehicle?

Although the rules are not as involved as they are for an attended vehicle, if you are involved in an accident with another vehicle that no one is driving and the owner is nowhere to be found, Section 56-5-1240 still requires that you:

  • Immediately stop;
  • Locate the owner of the vehicle and let them know what happened; or
  • Leave a written note on the vehicle with your name, address, and a statement about what happened.

Fixtures on or Near the Roadway

If you are in an accident that damages fixtures on or near the road (signs, mailboxes, etc.), Section 56-5-1250 requires you to “take reasonable steps” to locate the owner of the property, let them know what happened, and provide them with your contact information.

Do You Have to Report an Accident to the Police if There are No Injuries?

Section 56-5-1260 requires you to notify the police if you are involved in an accident where there is injury or death.

If there was no injury or death and the accident was not investigated by law enforcement, you are still required by Code Section 56-5-1270 to “forward a written report and verification of liability insurance coverage of the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles” within 15 days of the accident.

If you are involved in any accident where there are injuries or property damage, you should 1) stay at the scene of the accident and 2) contact law enforcement so they can create an accident report.

Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in SC

What are the potential penalties if you are convicted of “hit and run” in SC?

Leaving the Scene when There are Injuries

If there are injuries, but no great bodily injury or death, leaving the scene is a misdemeanor that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days and up to one year in prison.

Leaving the Scene when There is Great Bodily Injury

If you are convicted for leaving the scene of an accident where someone suffered great bodily injury, it is a felony offense that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days and up to ten years in prison.

Leaving the Scene when Someone Dies

If you are convicted for leaving the scene of an accident where someone dies, it is a felony offense that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of one year and up to 25 years in prison.

Leaving the Scene when There is Property Damage Only (Attended Vehicles)

If you are convicted of leaving the scene of an accident where there are no injuries but there is property damage, and the vehicle was attended, it is a misdemeanor offense that carries up to one year in prison.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident/ Hit and Run Defense Lawyer in Charleston, SC

Charleston traffic offense lawyer Grant B. Smaldone accepts criminal defense cases in the Charleston, Georgetown, and Myrtle Beach areas of SC, including driving under suspensionhabitual traffic offender, leaving the scene of an accident, and other traffic offenses.

If you need help with hit and run charges in SC, call now at (843) 808-2100 or send us an email to talk with a Charleston, SC criminal defense lawyer today.


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