Leaving the Scene of an Accident

The Rhode Island General Laws require any one involved in an automobile accident to stop and supply personal information, such as license, registration, insurance information, etc.  If the other person involved in the accident appears to be injured, you are also responsible for alerting the local or state police as quickly as reasonably possible.  

Failure to stop and give information and/or render aid is a criminal act.  Rhode Island General Law 31-26-1 requires that all persons stop and render aid if involved in an accident resulting in injury, serious bodily injury, or death, to the other driver.  While you are allowed to move the vehicle to a safe place or leave the scene for the sole purpose of calling and alerting the police, you are required by law to immediately return to the scene of the accident.  Failure to do so results in the following penalties:

1)    Any person knowingly failing to stop at an accident which caused injury to another person shall be punished by a mandatory loss of license for at least one (1) year and up to five (5) years; imprisonment up to five (5) years and/or fines not to exceed $5000.

2) Any person knowingly failing to stop at an accident which caused serious bodily injury is subject to a minimum one (1) year imprisonment up to a maximum ten (10) years imprisonment and a fine between $1000 and $5000 dollars.  In addition, your license may be revoked for up to two years.

3) Any person knowingly failing to stop at an accident which resulted in another’s death shall be punished by imprisonment for a minimum of two (2) years up to fifteen (15) years and a fine between $5000 and $10000 dollars.  In addition, your license will be suspended for three (3) years.

All of the above stated penalties are for first offenses and increase with each subsequent offense.  To distinguish sections 1 and 2, “serious bodily injury” is defined as any physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death or causes serious physical disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.