Hit and Run Laws in


7/1/06 - In the state of Iowa, hit and run drivers now face a felony charge for leaving the scene of a fatal accident

• Hit and run accidents. Enhanced penalties for hit and run violations resulting in injury or death (HF 2398).

Copyright The Iowa State Daily

Harsher penalties for hit-and-runs brings possibility of closure
Ames Rep. Heddens behind effort raising charge for fleeing site

By Jon Avise / Daily Staff Writer

For Kristin Bosch, sophomore in pre-business, first came the shocking news of Dec. 3.

Her friend and roommate, ISU junior Kelly Laughery, had been killed in a hit-and-run collision walking along Mortensen Road.

Later came the surprise and anger of learning the punishment for leaving the scene of an accident like the one that killed her Sigma Kappa sorority sister was an aggravated misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a fine of $1,500 to $5,000.

Nearly six months later, on April 21, Gov. Tom Vilsack signed into law a measure strengthening Iowa's hit-and-run penalties that had been introduced to the legislature by Rep. Lisa Heddens, D-Ames, in early February.

Leaving the scene of a fatal motor vehicle accident in Iowa is now considered a Class D Felony, punishable by a maximum prison term of up to five years and a fine of $750 to $7,500.

The new penalties will take effect July 1.

"I thought it was ridiculous for someone to be able to kill my friend and [be charged with only a misdemeanor]," Bosch said. "It is more legal to sell drugs than it is to hit someone with a car and kill someone.

"It was just really hard for us to think that our friend had just been hit - somebody could hit somebody, and not even be punished severely for it."

Heddens introduced the bill to the Iowa House in early February, spurred on in part by Laughery's death.

She said she had been contacted prior to early December and had become concerned by Iowa's relatively lax hit-and-run penalties.

The death of the young woman in her hometown made the need for more stringent consequences all the more apparent, Heddens said.

"I was surprised that was the penalty and felt we needed to strengthen it," she said. "By increasing the penalty, does that always make someone stop? Maybe not, but it is my hope."

If anything, Heddens said she hopes the new, stiffer punishments will cause people who injure someone in a car accident to "take responsibility" and contact local police soon after a crash.

"Minutes can mean a difference [in saving a life]", she said.

Heddens and Sen. Herman Quirmbach, D-Ames, both said they were pleased the measure passed through the House with overwhelming bipartisan support and was signed into law by Gov. Vilsack...........

The information below is outdated and used to refer to statute #'s only. Waiting for Iowa web site to be updated with current language

321.261 Death or personal injuries.

1. The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible and if able, shall then return to and remain at the scene of the accident in accordance with section 321.263 . Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.

2. Any person failing to stop or to comply with the requirements in subsection 1 of this section, in the event of an accident resulting in an injury to any person is guilty upon conviction of a serious misdemeanor.

3. A person failing to stop or to comply with the requirements in subsection 1, in the event of an accident resulting in the death of a person, is guilty upon conviction of an aggravated misdemeanor.

4. The director shall revoke the driver's license of a person convicted of a violation of this section.

[S13, §1571-m23; C24, 27, 31, 35, §5072, 5074; C39, § 5020.01; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71, 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, §321.261; 81 Acts, ch 103, §4]  90 Acts, ch 1230, §67; 98 Acts, ch 1073, §9

321.263 Information and aid - leaving scene of accident.

1. The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of a person or damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by a person shall give the driver's name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle the driver is driving and shall upon request and if available exhibit the driver's driver's license to the person struck, the driver or occupant of, or the person attending the vehicle involved in the accident and shall render to a person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including the transporting or arranging for the transporting of the person for medical treatment if it is apparent that medical treatment is necessary or if transportation for medical treatment is requested by the injured person.

2. If the accident causes the death of a person, all surviving drivers shall remain at the scene of the accident except to seek necessary aid or to report the accident to law enforcement authorities. Before leaving the scene of the fatal accident, each surviving driver shall leave the surviving driver's driver's license, automobile registration receipt, or other identification data at the scene of the accident. After leaving the scene of the accident, a surviving driver shall promptly report the accident to law enforcement authorities, and shall immediately return to the scene of the accident or inform the law enforcement authorities where the surviving driver can be located.

[S13, §1571-m23; C24, 27, 31, 35, §5072, 5079; C39, § 5020.03; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71, 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, §321.263]  90 Acts, ch 1230, §68; 98 Acts, ch 1073, §9

802.3 Felony - aggravated or serious misdemeanor .

In all cases, except those enumerated in sections 802.1 , 802.2 , and 802.2A , an indictment or information for a felony or aggravated or serious misdemeanor shall be found within three years after its commission.

[C51, §2813; R60, §4515; C73, §4167; C97, §5165; C24, 27, 31, 35, 39, § 13444; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71, 73, 75, 77, §752.3; C79, 81, §802.3; 81 Acts, ch 204, §10]  85 Acts, ch 174, §3; 92 Acts, ch 1199, §7; 2000 Acts, ch 1027, §2; 2001 Acts, ch 63, §2  Other exceptions, see § 802.5 , 802.6 , 802.9

903.1 Maximum sentence for misdemeanants.

1. If a person eighteen years of age or older is convicted of a simple or serious misdemeanor and a specific penalty is not provided for or if a person under eighteen years of age has been waived to adult court pursuant to section 232.45 on a felony charge and is subsequently convicted of a simple, serious, or aggravated misdemeanor, the court shall determine the sentence, and shall fix the period of confinement or the amount of fine, which fine shall not be suspended by the court, within the following limits:

a. For a simple misdemeanor, there shall be a fine of at least fifty dollars but not to exceed five hundred dollars. The court may order imprisonment not to exceed thirty days in lieu of a fine or in addition to a fine.

b. For a serious misdemeanor, there shall be a fine of at least two hundred fifty dollars but not to exceed one thousand five hundred dollars. In addition, the court may also order imprisonment not to exceed one year.

2. When a person is convicted of an aggravated misdemeanor, and a specific penalty is not provided for, the maximum penalty shall be imprisonment not to exceed two years. There shall be a fine of at least five hundred dollars but not to exceed five thousand dollars. When a judgment of conviction of an aggravated misdemeanor is entered against any person and the court imposes a sentence of confinement for a period of more than one year the term shall be an indeterminate term.

3. A person under eighteen years of age convicted of a simple misdemeanor under chapter 321 , 321G , 321I , 453A , 461A , 461B , 462A , 481A , 481B , 483A , 484A , or 484B , or a violation of a county or municipal curfew or traffic ordinance, except for an offense subject to section 805.8 , may be required to pay a fine, not to exceed one hundred dollars, as fixed by the court, or may be required to perform community service as ordered by the court.

4. The surcharges required by sections 911.1 , 911.2 , 911.3 , and 911.4 shall be added to a fine imposed on a misdemeanant as provided in those sections, and are not a part of or subject to the maximums set in this section.

[C51, §2676; R60, §4303; C73, §3967; C97, §4906; C24, 27, 31, 35, 39, § 12894; C46, 50, 54, 58, 62, 66, 71, 73, 75, 77, §687.7; C79, 81, §903.1]  83 Acts, ch 183, §2, 3; 84 Acts, ch 1219, §39; 87 Acts, ch 149, §7; 88 Acts, ch 1158, §100; 88 Acts, ch 1167, §8, 9; 90 Acts, ch 1251, §66; 91 Acts, ch 240, §10; 92 Acts, ch 1160, §25; 93 Acts, ch 110, §10; 99 Acts, ch 153, §24; 2001 Acts, ch 168, §5; 2004 Acts, ch 1111, §8 ; 2004 Acts, ch 1119, §7 ; 2004 Acts, ch 1132, §95 See also § 701.8

Enhanced penalties in weapons free zones, see § 724.4A
Surcharge on penalty, chapter 911
See Code editor's note to §2A.8 at the end of Vol VI
Subsections 3 and 4 amended

Source - see Iowa Code


This page is added for reference only. Laws may have been changed since and information shown may be incomplete or erroneous. Use of this information is at users risk and only an accredited attorney can advise you of the exact law in each state. This page deals with state leaving the scene laws only and hit and run drivers may face other charges.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005 6:04 AM CST

Appeals court upholds leaving the scene conviction in fatal accident
By Jeff Reinitz, Courier Staff Writer

TAMA --- A district court judge made the right decision when she convicted a Cedar Rapids man of leaving the scene of a fatal Tama County accident in 2004, the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled.

Authorities said Willard Richard Sanders III, 36, struck and killed 61-year-old Robert Shattuck of Marshalltown, who was walking along Highway 30 after visiting a casino, and then continued driving.

Investigators caught up with Sanders after witnesses described his maroon 1979 Ford LTD.

The Feb. 24, 2004, accident was at the heart of a push to increase the penalties for drivers who flee accidents where people are killed or hurt.

In his appeal, Sanders challenged the misdemeanor charge and argued the prosecution didn't have enough evidence to warrant a finding of guilty. He said the state failed to show he knew he hit a person and failed to show the likelihood he knew the person was injured.

But the Court of Appeals upheld the conviction in a ruling handed down this week.

"There is evidence from four other motorists who encountered Shattuck on the highway near the accident scene, indicating they recognized Shattuck as a person," said the opinion written by Judge Terry Huitink.

Sanders' appeal evoked a chicken-and-egg argument.

Iowa Code requires drivers to remain at the scene of --- or leave information at --- traffic accidents that kill or injure people. Although the 1913 and 1927 versions of the law said the driver had to have knowledge of the injury or death before he could be charged, the current statute omits the knowledge requirement.

Even so, Iowa courts have adopted case law that reasons the requirement of knowledge of injury would render the law useless because drivers who leave the scene preempt any opportunity find out the results of the accident. Therefore, criminal liability attaches if the driver knew the accident was of a nature that could reasonably result in injury.

In Sanders' case, the judges said his statements that he knew he hit something but didn't know what it was and that he didn't stop because he was afraid could be considered evidence, he knew the accident caused an injury.

Sanders was sentenced in November 2004 to two years in prison, suspended to a year in a residential facility, two years of probation and a $1,000 fine.

Contact Jeff Reinitz at (319) 291-1578 or jeff.reinitz@wcfcourier.com.

Copyright © 2005 Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier

Hit and Run Accidents
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