New Oregon Law Clarifies Hit and Run Driver's Responsibilities

Failing to perform the duties of a driver involved in a motor vehicle crash can result in felony charges, the Oregon Department of Transportation warns.

Oregon has a new law on the books -- it will take effect Jan. 1, 2019 -- that clarifies duties of drivers who may have been involved in a hit-and-run accident. A driver who thinks he or she may have struck something while behind the wheel will be required to investigate and report it.

"If you are involved in a traffic crash, especially a serious one with injuries or fatalities, the event is traumatic and sometimes tragic. It may be difficult at such times to remember the legal duties of a driver or vehicle owner involved in a crash – requirements intended for the safety of people involved in the crash, as well as other motorists and pedestrians," the Oregon Department of Transportation says in its March 27 release about the new law, which is House Bill 4055, signed in March by the governor. It will require drivers to:

  • Stop and investigate if they think they have hit something.
  • Take action if they did not realize at the time that it happened but later learned they may have hit something or someone. That includes calling 911 if the driver may have been in a crash resulting in an injury or fatality.

Failing to perform the duties of a driver involved in a motor vehicle crash can result in felony charges. The duties expand on current law, which requires a person involved in a crash involving injury or death to stop, provide aid to the injured, and remain at the scene to exchange information with the person or police. If a crash involves a domestic animal, the law requires the driver to stop, contact the owner, and provide attention to the animal. If a crash involves only property damage, the driver must stop and exchange information with the owner.

Any motor vehicle crash that results in death, injury, or substantial property damage must be reported to DMV within 72 hours. You must report a crash to DMV if any one of these applies:

  • Damage to any vehicle or anyone's property is more than $2,500 (even if your vehicle was the only one in the crash).
  • Any vehicle is towed from the scene.
  • Injury or death resulted from the crash.
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