Traffic Accident

Illinois Hit and Run & Leaving Accident Scene Laws

Hit and run is a very common offense. When a car accident happens, many people’s first instinct is to get away from the scene. In some cases drivers may not even be aware that they caused damage. Being nervous and anxious or afraid can make us do all kinds of things, and leaving car accident scenes is not uncommon.

Jump to:

  1. What to do after crash?
  2. Crash reports
  3. Accidents with unattended vehicles
  4. Leaving accident scenes
  5. Safety responsibility law
  6. Financial responsibility law
  7. Court appearance

If the law catches up to you, hit and run or leaving accident scene has serious consequences in Illinois. Depending on severity of the damage this can be a misdemeanor with small fines, or even a felony involving lengthy prison sentences.

What to do after a crash or accident?

Drivers who are involved in or come upon a traffic crash should:

  • Stop their vehicle in a safe, well-lit public place that does not obstruct traffic, if able to do so.
  • Help any injured person if necessary or requested.
  • Call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • Warn other drivers by using emergency flashers and flares if available.
  • Ask all those involved for their names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers and license plate numbers.

Crash reports

Regardless of fault, a crash report must be filed by the driver of a vehicle if the crash involves death, bodily injury or property damage of more than $1,500. If any vehicle involved in the crash is uninsured, a report must be filed for $500 or more.

A driver has 30 minutes to report a crash after it occurs. If drivers are involved in a crash, they should notify the police immediately. Many towns and cities require a report if a crash occurs within their limits. If an officer is not at the scene of the crash, a report must be made at the nearest police station as soon as possible.

If in a rural area, the county sheriff or Illinois State Police must be notified. If the driver is unable to make the report and there is a passenger, the passenger must make the report.

A report also must be made to the Illinois Department of Transportation. This confidential report must be sent no later than 10 days after the crash. The form may be obtained from a police officer or an automobile insurance agency.

Drivers who fail to report a vehicle crash may be fined up to $2,500 and given a jail sentence of up to one year.

Accidents with unattended vehicles

Drivers who are involved in a crash that causes damage to an unattended vehicle (no driver or passenger present) or other property should:

  • Stop their vehicle in an area away from traffic.
  • Leave their name, address, phone number and license plate number on the vehicle or property if the owner cannot be found.
  • Notify police.
  • Complete all required crash reports.

Leaving accident scenes

A driver convicted of leaving the scene of a crash, especially if personal injuries or death occurs, is subject to criminal charges. In cases where a death or personal injury has occurred, the Secretary of State’s office is required to revoke the individual’s driver’s license. In cases where damage is more than $1,000, driving privileges will be suspended.

Safety Responsibility Law

Drivers who are at fault in a crash that resulted in death, injury or property damage and do not have liability insurance must also meet the requirements of the Safety Responsibility Law. This law requires the driver to post security (a guarantee of payment) to cover damages suffered by the injured party.

The Illinois Department of Transportation determines the amount of the security. If drivers do not post the required security(s), their driver’s license may be suspended until the lawsuit is settled. The owner(s) of the vehicle involved in the crash also may have their license plates/vehicle registration suspended.

Driver’s license or vehicle registration privileges will remain suspended until the driver provides proof of financial responsibility (SR-22) and maintains the insurance for a period of three years from the date the proof is first filed. Individuals convicted of mandatory insurance violations will lose their driving privileges for a minimum of three months and be required to pay a $100 reinstatement fee, with no driving permit available.

Financial Responsibility Law

Drivers are required to file proof of financial responsibility if any of the following apply:

  • They receive an unsatisfied court judgment related to a crash.
  • The driver’s license was suspended under the Safety Responsibility Law due to an uninsured crash.
  • They receive a court supervision for a mandatory insurance violation.
  • They have been convicted of three or more mandatory insurance violations.

Proof of financial responsibility may include a certificate of insurance (SR-22), a bond or a deposit of securities (such as stock certificates). The SR-22 is filed directly with the Secretary of State by the insurance company. Through the SR-22 process, the Secretary of State monitors insurance coverage for a period of time specified by law.

Failure to renew insurance coverage or cancellation of insurance will result in a driver’s license suspension.

Court Appearance

If a driver receives a ticket for a minor traffic violation, a date for a court appearance will appear on the face of the ticket. If the driver fails to pay the ticket or to appear in court on the date indicated, a second court date may be set a minimum of 30 days later.

Hit and run or fleeing accident in Illinois is a serious offense and you should always find a good lawyer to help you prepare a defense. There are many possible legal defenses you can use in court to reduce penalties for hit and run.

The clerk of the court will send a notice to the driver at the last known address. Failure to appear on the second date will result in the suspension of the individual’s driver’s license until the court is satisfied and a reinstatement fee is paid.

Drivers who are under age 18 and required to appear in court must have a parent/legal guardian present at the court appearance. An Illinois driver ticketed in another state that is a member of the Non-Resident Violator Compact has three options:

  1. Stay in the ticketing state and argue the case
  2. Pay the fine
  3. Sign a promise to comply with the traffic ticket, which allows the driver to continue the journey and handle the ticket by mail from home. This courtesy also is extended to nonresidents from compact member states who are ticketed in Illinois. Failure to comply with the signed promise to appear will result in a driver’s license suspension by the home state’s motor vehicle department.

If you are involved in a car accident it’s never a good idea to simply flee the scene. Damage you may be liable for is usually lower than certain fines and penalties involved with fleeing the scene, and in this day and age of mass surveillance and phone cameras it’s often hard to get away and not get caught.

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This article about Illinois Hit and Run & Leaving Accident Scene Laws was last updated in 2018. If any of our information is incomplete or outdated please let us know. Thank you!