Have you been accused of a crime?
Call for a free consultation 24/7 toll-free:
(888) 744-7730

California Vehicle Code § 20002 – Hit and Run

California Vehicle Code § 20002 – Hit and Run

Bigstock 20hit 20and 20run

California Vehicle Code §20002 – Hit and Run – Any California driver who has accidently bumped another vehicle either in a parking lot or while trying to park on the street has two options.  They can either leave their name and contact information for the owner for the damaged vehicle or they can quickly drive away in the hope that no one noticed. California Vehicle Code § 20002[1] prohibits an individual from leaving the scene of an accident without identifying themselves to the others involved when someone else's property was damaged.  It is closely related to California Vehicle Code § 20001 Felony Hit and Run.   

Vehicle Code § 20002 for hit and run is a misdemeanor.  As such, it carries a maximum penalty of not more than six months in the county jail and fine up to $1,000 dollars, a lesser penalty than the more serious § 20002 Felony Hit and Run.   


What does California Vehicle Code § 20002 prohibit?

To be guilty under Vehicle Code § 20002, you must:

  • Leave an accident scene;
  • Fail to identify yourself to the others involved;
  • Damage occurred to someone else's property.

The definition of “hit and run” under Vehicle Code § 20002

In order for you to be convicted of hit and run[2], the prosecution must prove the following:

  • While driving, the defendant was involved in a vehicle accident;
  • The accident caused damage to someone else's property;
  • The defendant knew that (he/she) had been involved in an accident that caused property damage;
  • The defendant willfully failed to perform one or more of the following duties: (a) To stop immediately at the scene of the accident; or (b) To provide the owner or person in control of the damaged property with (his/her) name and current residence address [and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle the defendant was driving].

Penalties under California Vehicle Code § 20002

As a misdemeanor, hit and run carries a possible sentence of up to six months in the county jail as well as a fine up to $1,000.00 dollars, or both.  Penalties can also include 3 years of probation, restitution for the damage to property as well as 2 points on a California driving record. 

Defenses to Vehicle Code §20002 misdemeanor hit and run

The driver did not realize an accident occurred

Example: The accident is so minor that the driver did not realize that it had occurred.

Because you did not intentionally leave the scene of an accident and fail to leave identifying information, the prosecution cannot prove the case against you.

No damage occurred

Example: Your vehicle's breaks failed and you bumped into a fence, but did not notice any damage caused from the accident.

Where the driver had no knowledge that damage occurred as a result of the accident, the prosecution cannot prove an essential element of the crime.

Damage only occurred to the driver's car

Example:  A driver accidentally bumps a second vehicle in a parking lot, but damage is only caused to the driver's car. 

The driver did not cause damage to the property of another and should not be convicted of the crime. 


Related Offenses

California Vehicle Code § 12500 – Driving Without a License

Vehicle Code § 12500 applies both when a driver failed to obtain a California license or failed to renew their license. 

Vehicle Code § 12500 can be charged as a misdemeanor[3].  If convicted of a misdemeanor the punishment is:

  • Confinement in the county jail for up to not six months; or
  • A fine of not more than $1,000 dollars; or
  • Both jail and a fine. 

If charged as an infraction, the maximum penalty is a fine up to $250 dollars.

California Jury Instructions – Driving Without a License

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that he/she drove on a highway, did not hold a valid California license[4] and was not otherwise excused from the requirement to have a California license.

An example of driving without a license is an elderly driver that did not realize that their license had expired and they inadvertently continued to drive. 

California Vehicle Code § 23152 – Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence[5] applies when alcohol and/or drugs have affected the physical or mental capacity of a California driver.  Depending on whether or not this is a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or subsequent DUI offense, the driver can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. 

Upon conviction for a misdemeanor (usually 1st, 2nd and 3rd offenses), the driver's sentence can include:

• Probation for 3-5 years;

• Imprisonment in county jail for up to 1 year;

• Fine of $390 plus court costs;

• DUI school;

  • Driver's license suspension for at least six months; and
  • Insurance repercussions. 

California Jury Instructions – Driving Under the Influence

The prosecutor must prove that an individual was driving and that he/she was under the influence[6] of alcohol, drugs, or both.  An example of driving under the influence is an individual driving home from a company holiday party where they consumed alcohol with their co-workers.

California Vehicle Code § 20001- Felony Hit and Run

California Penal Code §20001 applies when a driver leaves the scene of an accident, without leaving identifying information, and someone other than the driver was injured or killed. 

Penal Code § 20001 can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony.  If convicted of a misdemeanor the punishment is:

• A fine of between 1,000 and 10,000 dollars;

• Up to one year in county jail.

If convicted of a felony, the punishment includes:

• A fine of between 1,000 and 10,000 dollars;

  • 16 months to 3 years in state prison;

• 2 – 4 years in state prison in cases where death or serious injury occurred.

California Jury Instructions – Felony Hit and Run

To prove that the defendant is guilty[7] of this crime, the People must prove that an accident occurred while the individual was driving and that the accident caused death or serious or permanent injury. The prosecution must also prove that the driver knew that an accident caused injury[8] or death to another and that they failed to immediately stop, provide assistance as well as provide identifying and contact information.

California Vehicle Code § 23153 – DUI with Injury

California Vehicle Code § 23153 applies when a driver is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both and he causes and accident that results in injury to another person. 

Vehicle Code 23153 can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case and whether this is a 1st, 2nd or 3rd offense.  A 3rd offense is an automatic felony. 

Upon conviction for a misdemeanor the driver's sentence can include:

• 3-5 years of probation;

• Imprisonment in county jail for at least 5 days but not more than 1 year;

• Fines ranging from $390 - $5000 dollars;

• 1- 3 year suspension of a California driver's license;

• Restitution paid to the victim(s);

• 3, 9, 18 or 30-months participation in an alcohol and drug education program[9].

Upon conviction for a felony the sentence can include:

  • 2, 3 or 4 years in state prison;
  • 1 additional year in state prison for each individual injured up to three additional years;
  • 3- 6 additional years in state prison for great bodily injury;
  • Fines from $1,015 to $5,000 dollars;
  • 18 – 30 months participation in an alcohol and drug education program;
  • Listed as an Habitual Traffic Offender for 3 years;
  • 5-year revocation of a California driver's license;
  • Strike on a California driving record for great bodily injury.

California Jury Instructions – DUI with Injury

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that an individual drove a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  The prosecution must also prove that while driving the driver committee an illegal act or neglected to perform a legal duty thereby causing injury to another person[10]

An example of DUI with injury is a couple driving home from a date after having a few drinks.  The driver veers off the road hitting a fence or barricade causing injury to the passenger.

California Vehicle Code 23109(c) – Exhibition of Speed

California Vehicle Code 23109(c) provides “(a) A person shall not engage in a motor vehicle speed contest on a highway. As used in this section, a motor vehicle speed contest[11] includes a motor vehicle race against another vehicle, a clock, or other timing device. For purposes of this section, an event in which the time to cover a prescribed route of more than 20 miles is measured, but where the vehicle does not exceed the speed limits, is not a speed contest.”

Vehicle Code 23109(c) can be charged as a misdemeanor and is often plead down to from a DUI where the BAC is low or there are other mitigating factors.  Upon conviction, the driver's sentence can include:

• Imprisonment in county jail for at least 24 hours but not more than 90 days; or

• Fine of not less than $355.00 dollars nor more than $1,000 dollars; or

• Imprisonment and fine; or

  • 40 hours of community service; or
  • Suspended license of 90 days up to 6 months.

California Jury Instructions – Exhibition of Speed

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that the driver willfully engaged in an exhibition of speed[12], driving at a dangerous and unsafe rate of speed to show off.  An example of exhibition of speed could involve two teens driving separate cars.  As they take off from a stop light, they both increase their speed, engaging in a road race down a busy highway.   

Hit and run under Vehicle Code 20002 is a serious crime even when charged as a misdemeanor. It is important to retain an experienced California criminal defense attorney as soon as possible in order to protect your rights. 

The attorneys at the Kann California Defense Group have a thorough understanding of the local courts and an extensive knowledge of California's criminal justice system including Ventura, Santa Clarita, Los Angeles, Encino, Pasadena, and many other Southern California cities.  If you or someone you know has been arrested or charged with misdemeanor hit and run, our team of attorneys will review your case and develop a defense strategy to either eliminate the charge or seek the lowest possible penalty.  Call the Kann California Defense Group today to schedule your free and confidential consultation.

References

[1] California Vehicle Code §20002

[2] California Jury Instruction – CALCRIM 2015 – Hit and Run

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. While driving, the defendant was involved in a vehicle accident;

2. The accident caused damage to someone else's property;

3. The defendant knew that (he/she) had been involved in an accident that caused property damage [or knew from the nature of the accident that it was probable that property had been damaged]; AND

4. The defendant willfully failed to perform one or more of the following duties: (a) To stop immediately at the scene of the accident; OR (b) To provide the owner or person in control of the damaged property with (his/her) name and current residence address [and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle the defendant was driving].

The driver of a vehicle may provide the required information in one of two ways:

1. The driver may locate the owner or person in control of the damaged property and give that person the information directly. On request, the driver must also show that person his or her driver's license and the vehicle registration; OR

2. The driver may leave the required information in a written note in a conspicuous place on the vehicle or other damaged property. The driver must then also, without unnecessary delay, notify either the police department of the city where the accident happened or the local headquarters of the California Highway Patrol if the accident happened in an unincorporated area.

[3] California Vehicle Code §12500

[4] California Jury Instructions – CALCRIM 2221 – Driving Without a License

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

“1. The defendant drove a motor vehicle on a highway; [AND]

2. When the defendant drove, (he/she) did not hold a valid California driver's license (;/.)

<Give element 3 when instructing on statutory exemption.> [AND

3. The defendant was not excused from the requirement to have a California driver's license.]

Whether the defendant was properly licensed is a matter within (his/ her) own knowledge. The defendant must produce evidence tending to show that (he/she) did hold a valid driver's license. If the evidence raises in your mind a reasonable doubt about whether the defendant held a valid driver's license, you must find the defendant not guilty of this crime.

[A motor vehicle includes a (passenger vehicle/motorcycle/motor scooter/ bus/school bus/commercial vehicle/truck tractor and trailer/

<insert other type of motor vehicle>).]
[The term highway describes any area publicly maintained and open to

the public for purposes of vehicular travel, and includes a street.]

[The term[s] (motor vehicle/ [and] highway) (is/are) defined in another instruction to which you should refer.]”

[5] People v. Enriquez (1996) 42 Cal. App. 4th 661, 665-666 [49 Cal.Rptr.2d 710]

[6] California Jury Instructions – CALCRIM 2110 – Driving Under the Influence

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

“1. The defendant drove a vehicle; AND

2. When (he/she) drove, the defendant was under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug].

A person is under the influence if, as a result of (drinking [or consuming] an alcoholic beverage/ [and/or] taking a drug), his or her mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.

The manner in which a person drives is not enough by itself to establish whether the person is or is not under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug]. However, it is a factor to be considered, in light of all the surrounding circumstances, in deciding whether the person was under the influence.

[An alcoholic beverage is a liquid or solid material intended to be consumed that contains ethanol. Ethanol is also known as ethyl alcohol, drinking alcohol, or alcohol. [An alcoholic beverage includes

<insert type[s] of beverage[s] from Veh. Code, § 109 or Bus. & Prof. Code, § 23004, e.g., wine, beer>.]]

[A drug is a substance or combination of substances, other than alcohol, that could so affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person that it would appreciably impair his or her ability to drive as an ordinarily cautious person, in full possession of his or her faculties and using reasonable care, would drive under similar circumstances.]

[If the People have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant's blood alcohol level was 0.08 percent or more at the time of the chemical analysis, you may, but are not required to, conclude that the defendant was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage at the time of the alleged offense.]”

[7] California Jury Instructions – CALCRIM 2140 – Felony Hit and Run

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

“1.  While driving, the defendant was involved in a vehicle accident;

2.    The accident caused (the death of/ [or] [permanent, serious] injury to) someone else;

  1. The defendant knew that (he/she) had been involved in an accident that injured another person [or knew from the nature of the accident that it was probable that another person had been injured];  AND

4.   The defendant willfully failed to perform one or more of the following duties:

(a)  To immediately stop at the scene of the accident;

(b)  To provide reasonable assistance to any person injured in the accident;

(c)  To give to (the person struck/the driver or occupants of any vehicle collided with) or any peace officer at the scene of the accident all of the following information:

  • The defendant's name and current residence address; [AND]
  • The registration number of the vehicle (he/she) was driving(;/.)

<Give following sentence if defendant not owner of vehicle.> [[AND]

• The name and current residence address of the owner of the vehicle if the defendant is not the owner(;/.)]

<Give following sentence if occupants of defendant's vehicle were injured.> [AND}

(d) When requested, to show (his/her) driver's license to (the person struck/the driver or occupants of any vehicle collided with) or any peace officer at the scene of the accident (;/.)

<Give element 4(e) if accident caused death.> [AND]

(e) The driver must, without unnecessary delay, notify either the police department of the city where the accident happened or the local headquarters of the California Highway Patrol if the accident happened in an unincorporated area.]

Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.

The duty to immediately stop means that the driver must stop his or her vehicle as soon as reasonably possible under the circumstances.

To provide reasonable assistance means the driver must determine what assistance, if any, the injured person needs and make a reasonable effort to see that such assistance is provided, either by the driver or someone else. Reasonable assistance includes transporting anyone who has been injured for medical treatment, or arranging the transportation for such treatment, if it is apparent that treatment is necessary or if an injured person requests transportation. [The driver is not required to provide assistance that is unnecessary or that is already being provided by someone else. However, the requirement that the driver provide assistance is not excused merely because bystanders are on the scene or could provide assistance.]

The driver of a vehicle must perform the duties listed regardless of who was injured and regardless of how or why the accident happened. It does not matter if someone else caused the accident or if the accident was unavoidable.

You may not find the defendant guilty unless all of you agree that the

• The names and current residence addresses of any occupants of the defendant's vehicle who were injured in the accident.]

People have proved that the defendant failed to perform at least one of the required duties. You must all agree on which duty the defendant failed to perform.

[To be involved in a vehicle accident means to be connected with the accident in a natural or logical manner. It is not necessary for the driver's vehicle to collide with another vehicle or person.]

[When providing his or her name and address, the driver is required to identify himself or herself as the driver of a vehicle involved in the accident.]

[A permanent, serious injury is one that permanently impairs the function or causes the loss of any organ or body part.]

[An accident causes (death/ [or] [permanent, serious] injury) if the (death/ [or] injury) is the direct, natural, and probable consequence of the accident and the (death/ [or] injury) would not have happened without the accident. A natural and probable consequence is one that a reasonable person would know is likely to happen if nothing unusual intervenes. In deciding whether a consequence is natural and probable, consider all the circumstances established by the evidence.]

[There may be more than one cause of (death/ [or] [permanent, serious] injury). An accident causes (death/ [or] injury) only if it is a substantial factor in causing the (death/ [or] injury). A substantial factor is more than a trivial or remote factor. However, it need not be the only factor that causes the (death/ [or] injury).]

[If the accident caused the defendant to be unconscious or disabled so that (he/she) was not capable of performing the duties required by law, then (he/she) did not have to perform those duties at that time. [However, (he/she) was required to do so as soon as reasonably possible.]]”

[8] People v. Holford (19650 63 Cal. 2d 74, 79-80 [45 Cal. Rptr. 167, 403 P.2d 423]

[9] California Drug and Alcohol School

[10] California Jury Instructions – CALCRIM 2100 – DUI with Injury

“To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

  1. The defendant (drove a vehicle/operated a vessel);
  2. When (he/she) (drove a vehicle/operated a vessel), the defendant was under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug].
  3. While (driving a vehicle/operating a vessel) under the influence, the defendant also (committed an illegal act/ [or] neglected to perform a legal duty);  AND

4. The defendant's (illegal act/ [or] failure to perform a legal duty) caused bodily injury to another person.

A person is under the influence if, as a result of (drinking [or consuming] an alcoholic beverage/ [and/or] taking a drug), his or her mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is no longer able to (drive a vehicle/operate a vessel) with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.

[An alcoholic beverage is a liquid or solid material intended to be consumed that contains ethanol. Ethanol is also known as ethyl alcohol, drinking alcohol, or alcohol. [An alcoholic beverage includes

<insert type[s] of beverage[s] from Veh. Code, § 109 or Bus. & Prof. Code, § 23004, e.g., wine, beer>.]]

[A drug is a substance or combination of substances, other than alcohol, that could so affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person that it would appreciably impair his or her ability to (drive a vehicle/ operate a vessel) as an ordinarily cautious person, in full possession of his or her faculties and using reasonable care, would (drive a vehicle/ operate a vessel) under similar circumstances.]

[If the People have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant's blood alcohol level was 0.08 percent or more at the time of the chemical analysis, you may, but are not required to, conclude that the defendant was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage at the time of the alleged offense.]

[In evaluating any test results in this case, you may consider whether or not the person administering the test or the agency maintaining the testing device followed the regulations of the California Department of Public Health.

[The People allege that the defendant committed the following illegal act[s]: <list name[s] of offense[s]>.

To decide whether the defendant committed <list name[s] of offense[s]>, please refer to the separate instructions that I (will give/ have given) you on (that/those) crime[s].]

[The People [also] allege that the defendant failed to perform the following legal (duty/duties) while (driving the vehicle/operating the vessel): (the duty to exercise ordinary care at all times and to maintain proper control of the (vehicle/vessel)/ <insert other duty or duties alleged>).]

[You may not find the defendant guilty unless all of you agree that the People have proved that the defendant (committed [at least] one illegal act/[or] failed to perform [at least] one duty).

<Alternative A—unanimity required; see Bench Notes>

[You must all agree on which (act the defendant committed/ [or] duty the defendant failed to perform).]

<Alternative B—unanimity not required; see Bench Notes>

[But you do not have to all agree on which (act the defendant committed/ [or] duty the defendant failed to perform).]]

[Using ordinary care means using reasonable care to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm to someone else. A person fails to exercise ordinary care if he or she (does something that a reasonably careful person would not do in the same situation/ [or] fails to do something that a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation).]

[An act causes bodily injury to another person if the injury is the direct, natural, and probable consequence of the act and the injury would not have happened without the act. A natural and probable consequence is one that a reasonable person would know is likely to happen if nothing unusual intervenes. In deciding whether a consequence is natural and probable, consider all the circumstances established by the evidence.]

[There may be more than one cause of injury. An act causes bodily injury to another person only if it is a substantial factor in causing the injury. A substantial factor is more than a trivial or remote factor. However, it need not be the only factor that causes the injury.]

[It is not a defense that the defendant was legally entitled to use the drug.]

[If the defendant was under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [and/or] a drug), then it is not a defense that something else also impaired (his/her) ability to (drive a vehicle/operate a vessel).]

[11] California Vehicle Code 23109(c)

[12] California Jury Instructions – CALCRIM  2202  - Exhibition of Speed

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. The defendant drove a motor vehicle on a highway; AND

2. While so driving, the defendant willfully engaged in an exhibition of speed.

Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose. It is not required that he or she intend to break the law, hurt someone else, or gain any advantage.

A person engages in an exhibition of speed when he or she accelerates or drives at a rate of speed that is dangerous and unsafe in order to show off or make an impression on someone else.”

Menu