Auto accidents are civil offenses in the United States. Personal injury and damage to property caused in or by auto accidents are civil offenses. However, there are instances when the civil offenses may become criminal offenses. Some civil offenses have criminal consequences in the United States. Most of these cases are a result of an escalation of the primary civil offense.
• One of the most common criminal consequences of auto accidents in the United States is a hit and run. Whenever an accident happens, both or more drivers engaged in the incident must pause, get out of their vehicles and address the injured. Minor injuries that do not require hospitalization may not be reported immediately but serious injuries will warrant the people involved to call for emergency help. It does not matter who is at fault, those who are able to help must do so and not simply drive away. The person at fault must definitely extend a helping hand. If the damage is limited to property, then a driver or car owner must share their contact details including name of insurer and other relevant information that would expedite the process of claiming damages. If someone is involved in an accident and then does not stop, either to provide help or to exchange relevant information, then it is a case of hit and run. This is a criminal offense, regardless of the severity of the injury. There can be significant penalties for hit and run cases. There could be prison sentence in serious cases where injury is severe or if a person dies.
• The most common criminal consequences of auto accidents in the United States is driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated and driving while ability impaired. It is illegal to drive under influence, be it alcohol or drugs, in all fifty states of the country. It does not matter how severely a person is injured or the extent of damage to property caused by the accident. It is not a civil offence is the driver causing the accident or playing role was intoxicated or impaired in some way. The penalties would be less severe for first time offenders but repeat offenders would have to pay hefty pines, driving license may be suspended and there could be other penalties. Wrongful death caused by a driver while driving under influence would bring upon felony charges and there are varying jail terms depending on the various facts of the case.
• The third scenario wherein a civil offence such as an auto accident can have criminal consequences is reckless driving. If any driver is over speeding, driving recklessly, not obeying traffic rules and laws of the road, interfering with fellow commuters and drivers in an invasive manner, causing damage to public property, posing a risk to personal property and causing injuries to people along the way, then there are serious criminal consequences of such auto accidents in the US. If there is any death caused during such reckless driving, then manslaughter charges can be framed against the accused.