Hit-and-run is a serious crime in Texas. This month, a driver was accused of killing three people on an interstate near Dallas and fleeing the accident scene.
Dallas police sought Jesus Chavarria-Vasquez, 32, after three men were killed and two were injured on March 10.
Investigators said Chavarria-Vasquez abandoned his 12-year-old son at the scene of the accident, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Police said Chavarria-Vasquez was driving a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado when he crashed into three men who were beside their Toyota Rav4 changing a flat tire along Interstate 635 close to the Dallas North Tollway.
The Dallas County medical examiner’s office later named the three victims as David Nguyen, 23, Hieu Minh Doan, 22, and Christopher Pham, 23. Police reports stated Chavarria-Vasquez’s pickup then struck the Toyota, where two passengers were sitting inside, police said.
The two occupants of the Toyota survived but sustained injuries in the crash. One of them was left in critical condition. The other passenger sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
Police reported the impact caused Chavarria-Vasquez’s pickup to roll over. He allegedly left the accident scene on foot, abandoning his 12-year-old son in the vehicle. The boy suffered non-life-threatening head injuries.
Police said they were able to identify Chavarria-Vasquez through conversations with his son and ex-wife. His driver’s license was found at the scene. Police said it was not clear if Chavarria-Vasquez had been drinking alcohol before the crash.
Police said Chavarria-Vasquez faces charges of manslaughter and failure to stop and render aid.
The Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident in Texas
Under Texas law, every driver is required to stop immediately after an accident involving an injury, a death, or property damage. Drivers who fail to stop immediately can be charged with hit-and-run for leaving the scene of an accident.
The circumstances of the crash including whether death or an injury occurred determine whether the driver is charged with a misdemeanor or a felony offense.
Texas strengthened the penalties for hit-and-run in 2013. It is now a second-degree felony to leave the scene of a fatal accident carrying a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
If a victim suffers a serious bodily injury in the accident, the hit-and-run driver may face a third-degree felony carrying up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
When a driver causes damage to an occupied vehicle he or she must stop as close as possible to the accident scene without impeding traffic, render aid, provide personal details, and show his or her driver’s license if requested.
Fleeing an accident with property damage only is a Class C misdemeanor with a potential fine of up to $500. When damage to the vehicles is under $200, the punishment may be reduced to a Class B misdemeanor with a sentence of up to 6 months in county jail.
Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious offense. If you have been charged with this crime you should contact an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.