2023 New Mexico Statutes
Chapter 66 - Motor Vehicles
Article 7 - Traffic Laws; Signs, Signals and Markings; Accidents; Weight and Size; Traffic Safety
Part 3 - ACCIDENTS
Section 66-7-201 - Accidents involving death or personal injuries.

Universal Citation: NM Stat § 66-7-201 (2023)

A. 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 thereto as possible, but shall then immediately return to and in every event shall remain at the scene of the accident until he has fulfilled the requirements of Section 66-7-203 NMSA 1978. Every such stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.

B. Any person failing to stop or to comply with the requirements of Section 66-7-203 NMSA 1978 where the accident results in great bodily harm or death is guilty of a fourth degree felony and shall be sentenced pursuant to the provisions of Section 31-18-15 NMSA 1978.

C. Any person who knowingly fails to stop or to comply with the requirements of Section 66-7-203 NMSA 1978 where the accident results in great bodily harm or death is guilty of a third degree felony and shall be sentenced pursuant to the provisions of Section 31-18-15 NMSA 1978.

D. Any person failing to stop or comply with the requirements of Section 66-7-203 NMSA 1978 where the accident does not result in great bodily harm or death is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be sentenced pursuant to the provisions of Subsection A of Section 31-19-1 NMSA 1978.

E. The director shall revoke the license or permit to drive and any nonresident operating privilege of the person so convicted.

History: 1953 Comp., § 64-7-201, enacted by Laws 1978, ch. 35, § 390; 1987, ch. 97, § 2; 1987 ch. 101, § 1; 1989, ch. 383, § 1.

ANNOTATIONS

Cross references. — For mandatory revocation of driver's license, see 66-5-29 NMSA 1978.

For immediate appearance before magistrate for violation, see 66-8-122 NMSA 1978.

For settlements, releases and statements of injured patients, see 41-1-1, 41-1-2 NMSA 1978.

The 1989 amendment, effective June 16, 1989, substituted "immediately" for "forthwith" near the middle of the first sentence of Subsection A, added present Subsection C, and redesignated former Subsections C and D as present Subsections D and E.

The 1987 amendment, effective June 19, 1987, in Subsection A, substituted "66-7-203 NMSA 1978" for "64-7-203 NMSA 1953" at the end of the first sentence; rewrote Subsection B; inserted the present Subsection C; and relettered former Subsection C as the present Subsection D.

Laws 1987, ch. 97, § 2, effective April 7, 1987, also amended 66-7-201 NMSA 1978. The section was set out as amended by Laws 1987, ch. 101, § 1. See 12-1-8 NMSA 1978.

Constitutionality. — This section is not vague on the basis that there is no way to distinguish between the elements of the offense contained in Subsections B and C. State v. Cumpton, 2000-NMCA-033, 129 N.M. 47, 1 P.3d 429, cert. denied, 128 N.M. 688, 997 P.2d 820.

Proof required for conviction. — In order to convict defendant of accidents involving death or personal injuries, the state was required to prove that defendant: (1) operated a motor vehicle; (2) was involved in an accident which caused great bodily harm or death of the victim; (3) failed to stop and/or failed to remain at the scene of the accident; and (4) failed to render reasonable aid to the victim. State v. Guzman, 2004-NMCA-097, 136 N.M. 253, 96 P.3d 1173, cert. denied, 2004-NMCERT-008, 136 N.M. 492, 100 P.3d 197.

"Involved in an accident" construed. — The plain meaning of "involved in an accident," within the context of the statute as a whole, applies to more than collisions. Our legislature intended the statutory phrase "involved in an accident" to be interpreted more broadly based on a recognition that the underlying policy objectives of the hit-and-run statute is to prohibit drivers from evading criminal or civil liability, to ensure people receive necessary aid or medical attention, and to deter drivers from thwarting or impeding investigations and avoiding liability for the harm they cause by failing to stop or failing to comply with this section. State v. Hertzog, 2020-NMCA-031.

The district court properly instructed the jury on "involved in an accident". — Where defendant was charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in great bodily harm or death based on evidence that during a drive, an argument began between defendant and his girlfriend (victim) where the victim punched defendant in the face and jumped out of the moving vehicle that defendant was driving, and although defendant was aware that the victim had jumped out of the truck, he did not stop at or near the scene to investigate the victim's condition, report the incident, provide identification, or render assistance, and where, at trial, defendant claimed that the given jury instruction for leaving the scene of an accident was improper and that a proper instruction should equate "accident" with "collision", the district court did not err by refusing to give defendant's proposed instruction because the term "accident" should not be limited to collisions, thereby excluding other types of accidents that seriously injure or, as in this case, kill a person. State v. Hertzog, 2020-NMCA-031.

Sufficient evidence of leaving the scene of an accident. — Where defendant was charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in great bodily harm or death based on evidence that during a drive, an argument began between defendant and his girlfriend (victim) where the victim punched defendant in the face and jumped out of the moving vehicle that defendant was driving, and although defendant was aware that the victim had jumped out of the truck, he did not stop at or near the scene to investigate the victim's condition, report the incident, provide identification, or render assistance, there was sufficient evidence to support defendant's conviction where the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was the driver of a motor vehicle involved in an accident which resulted in the death of the victim, that defendant knew that there was an accident, that defendant knowingly failed to stop his vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible without obstructing traffic more than necessary, and that defendant knowingly failed to comply with the requirements of § 66-7-203 NMSA 1978. State v. Hertzog, 2020-NMCA-031.

Duty to give information and render aid is an essential element of leaving the scene of an accident. — A driver's failure to satisfy the requirements of 66-7-203 NMSA 1978, prior to leaving the scene of an accident is an essential element for a conviction of the crime of leaving the scene of an accident involving death or personal injuries. State v. Esparza, 2020-NMCA-050, cert. denied.

Failing to properly instruct on defendant's duty to remain at the scene of an accident resulted in fundamental error. — Where defendant was charged with multiple crimes as a result of a car accident, including leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injuries (no great bodily harm or death), and where the trial court instructed the jury to find defendant guilty if the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant operated a vehicle involved in an accident, the accident resulted in injury, and defendant failed to immediately stop, return, and remain at the scene, but failed to instruct the jury regarding a driver's duty to satisfy the requirements of 66-7-203 NMSA 1978 prior to leaving the scene, an essential element for a conviction of the crime of leaving the scene of an accident involving death or personal injuries, the omitted element of whether defendant complied with 66-7-203 NMSA 1978's requirements was not undisputed and indisputable and therefore the error was fundamental. State v. Esparza, 2020-NMCA-050, cert. denied.

Sufficient evidence of leaving the scene of an accident. — Where defendant was charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving personal injuries (no great bodily harm or death), and where the evidence presented at trial established that a vehicle driven by defendant collided with another vehicle, that the driver of the second vehicle was ejected and severely injured, that shortly after the collision, several drivers stopped and unsuccessfully attempted to render aid to the injured driver, who died shortly thereafter from his injuries, that defendant got out of his car, began pacing back and forth, and then left the scene on foot before the first emergency responder arrived, there was sufficient evidence to permit a reasonable jury to conclude that each element of leaving the scene of an accident was established beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Esparza, 2020-NMCA-050, cert. denied.

Every legitimate inference will be drawn against a hit-and-run driver. Lopez v. Townsend, 1938-NMSC-058, 42 N.M. 601, 82 P.2d 921.

Vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident. — Where defendant drove a pickup toward a group of children who were trick-or-treating on Halloween; the chaperone pushed the children out of the way but was struck and killed; defendant stopped and then left the scene of the accident; defendant was convicted of homicide by vehicle under 66-8-101 NMSA 1978 and knowingly leaving the scene of an accident involving great bodily harm or death under 66-7-201 NMSA 1978, defendant's convictions did not violate defendant's double jeopardy rights. State v. Melendrez, 2014-NMCA-062, cert. denied, 2014-NMCERT-006.

Magistrates have jurisdiction of this misdemeanor offense and can impose the maximum penalty and/or a fine, the sentence, if imposed, to be served in the state penitentiary. 1973 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 73-67 (rendered under prior law).

Am. Jur. 2d, A.L.R. and C.J.S. references. — 7A Am. Jur. 2d Automobiles and Highway Traffic §§ 289 to 295, 363, 382.

Failure to comply with statute requiring one involved in automobile accident to stop or report as affecting question as to suspension or tolling statute of limitation, 10 A.L.R.2d 564.

Acquittal of driver of hit-and-run driving as bar to prosecution of one other than driver, 62 A.L.R.2d 1130.

Applicability of criminal "hit-and-run" statute to accidents occurring on private property, 77 A.L.R.2d 1171.

Violation of statute requiring one involved in an accident to stop and render aid as affecting civil liability, 80 A.L.R.2d 299.

Sufficiency of showing of driver's involvement in motor vehicle accident to support prosecution for failure to stop, furnish identification, or render aid, 82 A.L.R.4th 232.

Necessity and sufficiency of showing, in criminal prosecution under "hit-and-run" statute, accused's knowledge of accident, injury, or damage, 26 A.L.R.5th 1.

61A C.J.S. Motor Vehicles §§ 674 to 683.

Admissibility of evidence of prior accidents or injuries at same place. 15 A.L.R.6th 1.

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