Legal Consequences: Can You Go to Jail For Causing a Car Accident?

A car accident can completely disrupt your life, whether you are the victim or the cause. The events surrounding this unfortunate incident can alter the trajectory of your life in an instant, especially if it results in severe injuries or death.

If you are at fault in an accident, you may be worried about the consequences, including the possibility of facing jail time. Although it is possible to go to jail for causing an accident, the final outcome will depend on various factors if legal action is pursued.

When Is Causing a Car Accident Considered a Criminal Offense?

Not all car accidents are deemed criminal offenses, but they can become criminal offenses if certain incidents or factors are present during the accident.

Driving Under the Influence

According to the California Office of Safety Traffic, DUI is one of the leading causes of car accidents in Tracy, CA, in 2021. It’s considered negligence under California law. This means if you are proven to be under the influence of alcohol or any drugs during an accident in which someone is killed, you are likely to face criminal charges.

If charged with a misdemeanor, you may face a minimum of 5 days and a maximum of 1 year in county jail, 3 to 5 years probation, a fine between $390 and $5,000, up to 3 years of license suspension, and up to 30 months of required participation in DUI programs.

If you are charged with a felony, you could be sentenced to up to 6 years in state prison and fined anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. Additionally, your driver’s licence could be revoked for 5 years,you may have to participate in DUI programs for up to 30 months, and you will receive a strike on your driving record.)

Vehicular Manslaughter

If you cause someone’s death due to irresponsible and reckless driving, it’s considered manslaughter. It can be classified as a misdemeanor or felony based on the circumstances of the accident.

If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you may face a maximum sentence of one year in jail and fines of up to $1,000. However, if you’re charged with a felony, you may face a maximin sentence of 6 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.


Fleeing the accident scene without intending to cooperate with the victims and authorities will be considered a criminal offense as it indicates a lack of accountability for the accident caused.

If the damages are not severe, you may be charged with a misdemeanor offense. In such a case, you will have to pay a fine ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 and serve up to 1 year of jail. However, if the charges against you are for a felony, you’ll have to pay a fine between $1,000 and $10,000 and serve a jail time of up to 4 years.

What Should You Do if You Caused a Car Accident?

In California, being an at-fault state means that you will be responsible for the damages resulting from the accident. It’s important to take responsibility for the accident to prevent additional issues for all parties involved.

However, it’s also crucial to protect your rights. After the accident, consider taking the following steps:

  • Check for Injuries:

Pull over the side of the road if you can and check if you sustained any injuries. Check on the other people involved to see if anyone needs immediate medical attention.

  • Report the Accident:

Stay put and call the police to report the accident. Don’t leave the scene. Otherwise, you may be charged with a hit-and-run.

  • Document the Accident:

Properly documenting the scene can help prevent incorrect information. Take photos of the injuries sustained, the vehicles of everyone involved, and the position of all vehicles.

  • Inform Your Insurance Company:

Immediately get in touch with your insurance company regarding the accident, as there’s a high likelihood that the victims will file a claim.

  • Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer: 

While you’re technically at fault, having a legal professional to guide you through this ordeal can help alleviate any stress and provide the support you need.

Seek Professional Legal Assistance

Can you go to jail for a car accident? You have probably been wondering this question since the accident. While there’s a high possibility, several factors still need to be considered before making the final decision.

Jones Wilson Injury Lawyers is here to support you every step of the way. Our experienced Henderson personal injury lawyers are committed to defending you effectively to ensure fair judgment for your case. Contact us online or call us at 702-405-6000 to schedule a free consultation.

Why Work with us?

Finding the right lawyer to represent your injury case can be extremely frustrating. However, with 35 years worth of experience and insider knowledge of how insurance companies work, the Jones Wilson law firm stands out from the crowd. Other attorneys pick and choose their clients based on case notoriety, but we’re here to help you, no matter how large or small your case.
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