Hit-and-Run Cases in Germany

Lawyers for German Criminal Law

Hit-and-Run Cases in Germany

Lawyers for German Criminal Law

Unauthorised departure from the scene of an accident, also known as a hit-and-run, should not be underestimated, given the criminal consequences threatened here. As a serious offence, it is punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to three years. In addition, the driving licence can be revoked, or a driving ban can be imposed. Nevertheless, several hundred thousand hit-and-runs occur in Germany every year.

In contrast to administrative offences, effective defence in traffic offence cases is only possible with the help of a suitably qualified lawyer.

The German defence lawyers at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte offer comprehensive legal assistance in traffic and traffic criminal law. Our defence lawyers will support you both in the event of problematic penalty notices and criminal proceedings following an accident. We advise you on your rights as an accused person and represent you with equal competence and commitment to achieve the best possible outcome for you.

Please, do not hesitate to contact us directly for specialist legal defence.

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Obligation to Tolerate Findings and Obligation to Wait

A person involved in an accident is liable to prosecution if he leaves the scene of the accident before he has made it possible to establish his person, his vehicle and the nature of his involvement by being present and by stating that he is involved in the accident (§ 142 (1) StGB). The purpose is to enable such ascertainments that are necessary to secure or ward off any civil claims for compensation.

This obligation to tolerate findings exists if persons willing to make conclusions are present. These can be other persons involved in the accident and injured parties or third parties acting on their behalf, particularly the police.

If no persons willing to make an assessment are present, there is a duty to wait. In this case, a person involved in the accident is liable to prosecution if he or she leaves the scene of the accident before having waited for a reasonable time without anyone being ready to make the findings (§ 142 (1) StGB).

The duration of the reasonable waiting time depends on the circumstances of the individual case. In particular, the type and severity of the accident, the time of the accident, as well as the location of the accident and the traffic density are decisive.

In principle, the obligation to wait exists only as long as it can be expected that persons ready to decide will arrive as soon as possible. However, even if the damage is only minor, you should wait at least ten minutes.

Subsequent Possibility of Determination

If you leave the scene of an accident after the waiting period has expired, you are still liable to prosecution if you do not immediately make it possible to make subsequent findings (§ 142 (2) StGB). Immediately means that action must be taken without culpable hesitation. It may, therefore, often be necessary to go directly from the accident scene to a police station. Here too, however, the circumstances of the individual case are decisive.

The obligation to make a subsequent determination also applies in the case of justified or excused removal from the accident scene. A person is justifiably absent from the scene of an accident if there is a justifiable reason for doing so. This could be the consent of the injured party or a justifiable state of emergency according to § 34 StGB, e.g. due to the care of an injured person within the framework of the general duty to help (§ 323c (1) StGB). An excused departure from the scene of an accident can be assumed if reasons for excusing or excluding guilt intervene.

Whether an unauthorised departure from the scene of an accident exists depends on the circumstances of the individual case and often requires careful legal examination. Our lawyers for criminal law will be happy to assist you with this.

Who is Affected by the Obligations under § 142 StGB?

The offence of § 142 StGB imposes obligations on persons involved in a road traffic accident. This includes any sudden event that is causally related to the typical dangers of road traffic and that causes more than trivial personal injury or damage to property. Only public road traffic is covered. The value limit for the assessment of insignificance is approximately 25 to 50 Euros (OLG Jena, decision of 7.7.2005, ref.: 1 Ss 161/04 and OLG Nuremberg, decision of 24.1.2007, ref.: 2 St OLG Ss 300/06).

For § 142 StGB, the person involved in the accident is not only the apparent person who caused the accident but anyone whose conduct may have contributed to causing the accident according to the circumstances (§ 142 (5) StGB). Who was involved in the accident can often only be made possible by the determination at the accident scene. A passenger can also be involved in an accident if, for example, they grab the driver´s steering wheel.

It should be noted that the offence of unauthorised departure from the scene of an accident is only committed by someone who acts intentionally. For example, a person who overlooked the accident is not liable to prosecution.

Consequences under German Criminal Law and Insurance Law

Unauthorised departure from the scene of an accident is punishable by up to three years imprisonment or a fine. This can be considered a mitigating factor if a person suffers an accidental shock. In addition, the court will mitigate the penalty or may even waive it if the person involved in the accident voluntarily provides identification within twenty-four hours of the accident (§ 142 (4) StGB). However, this only applies to accidents outside of moving traffic, i.e., essentially parking accidents, which exclusively result in non-significant property damage. There is no explicit value limit for this. It is estimated at approximately 1,3000 Euros (cf. OLG Hamm, decision of 30.9.2010, ref.: III 3 RVs 72/10).

In addition, leaving the scene of an accident without permission may result in the driving license revocation (§ 69 (1) (2) StGB). This applies in particular to the person who knew or could have known that a person had been killed or significantly injured in the accident or that significant damage had been caused to property belonging to others. In addition, the reinstatement of the driving licence may be made dependent on a medical-psychological examination (MPU). A driving ban may be imposed if the driving license is not revoked (§ 44 StGB).

In addition to the consequences under criminal law, an unauthorised departure from the scene of an accident also regularly has effects under insurance law. For example, the vehicle insurer may be completely exempt from paying benefits, or the benefits may be reduced (§ 28 para. 2 VVG). In the case of motor vehicle liability insurance, however, it must be considered insurer´s exemption from paying benefits to the policyholder is limited to 2,5000 Euros or 5,000 Euros (§ 6 KfzPflVV).

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