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Can My Car Turn Me in for a Hit and Run?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on December 14, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You didn't really hit that other car -- it was more a love tap. No need to get the authorities involved, right? Well, your car might not agree.

New car technology can tell us where we are, where to go, and even where other cars are. And it can tell the cops if you've been involved in an accident. So you might want to think twice before leaving the scene of an accident.

Snitches Get New Fenders

Thanks to Ford's SYNC 911 Emergency Assist function, a woman's car called police last week, telling dispatchers "the owner of a Ford vehicle was involved in a crash and to press zero to speak with the occupants of the vehicle." When officers contacted the driver, Cathy Bernstein, she told them there hadn't been an accident, and she didn't know why the car called for help.

But the car told a different story. When police visited Bernstein's home later, they found the airbag deployed, extensive damage to the front end, and silver paint on the front bumper; paint that matched that of a car that reported a hit and run at the same time Bernstein's Ford called 911. Bernstein finally admitted to hitting another car, while fleeing yet another collision. KPBF in Florida reports she was arrested and booked into the St. Lucie County Jail.

Felony Fleeing

It should go without saying that leaving the scene of an accident is a bad idea, especially if there's been any property damage or physical injuries. Your responsibilities to report an accident generally depend on what happened.

If you hit a parked or unattended vehicle or other stationary object, and there was only damage to property, you generally just need to make a reasonable effort to identify and alert the property owner. But if another driver, passenger, or a pedestrian is injured in an accident, you have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to help any injured person and to report the accident to local law enforcement. Fleeing the scene of an accident that involves injuries to others can be a felony offense.

If you've been charged with hit and run, or any other traffic offense, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case.

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