Can You Go to Jail for Hitting a Pedestrian in New York?
In New York, many of the accidents that take place are between passenger vehicles and pedestrians. When is an accident just an accident, and when does it represent major legal trouble with a criminal component?
Here’s what you need to know.
Do Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way in New York?
Drivers should always be on the lookout for pedestrians, and you should certainly stop for a pedestrian who dashes out into the street whether they have the right of way or not. Nevertheless it is not, strictly speaking, true that pedestrians always have the right of way.
Pedestrians have the right of way when:
- They are in a crosswalk, or at an intersection with marked or unmarked crosswalks.
- When they have the benefit of the “Walk” signal.
- When entering or exiting the road.
Pedestrians who ignore the Don’t Walk sign, don’t cross at crosswalks, or go places pedestrians shouldn’t go, like state interstates or highways, don’t have the right-of-way.
You can get a ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian at a crosswalk, even if nobody gets hurt. That’s a 3-point license penalty, an $150 fine for the first violation, and the potential to spend up to 15 days in jail. This charge should be taken seriously, and you should reach out to an attorney who has experience both with criminal law and with traffic law. 15 days in jail is more than enough to wreck most people’s lives, even though a violation like this one does not result in a criminal record.
Accidents Are Not Crimes
If the accident was truly an accident, you may face civil charges but you won’t face criminal ones. Indeed, you might not even face civil charges; if the pedestrian was at-fault for the accident because they were violating traffic laws that may be all there is to it.
The accident becomes a criminal matter when:
- The driver was intoxicated.
- The driver flees the scene of the accident.
- The driver was guilty of driving recklessly.
The charges are different for each; the first is a DWI/DUI, the second is a hit and run, and the third is an involuntary manslaughter case.
In trouble? Get help.
If you’re accused of violating the law then you’ll need an attorney. If you’ve hit a pedestrian it’s a good idea to retain one until you are very sure criminal charges wonn’t be an issue.
Contact our office to schedule a case review today.