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Have you received a letter or phone call from a Traffic Investigations Unit or another police department?If so, it’s important to understand that this means that you are under investigation — quite likely regarding a “hit and run.”

A hit-and-run accident doesn’t have to be dramatic and cause extensive injuries to end up causing you significant legal problems. For example, maybe you accidentally tapped someone’s bumper pulling out of a parking lot, and there was no visible damage, so you didn’t think anything about driving off. Or, you may have somehow tapped a pedestrian or bicyclist without even realizing that you hit anyone — especially if it was dark.

There’s also every possibility that you did nothing at all and, your car was misidentified by someone on the scene — or was being driven by someone else (like a friend or relative) at the time. You may also be the victim of someone else’s false report. For example, if you were in a fender-bender and the other driver took off, he or she may have later told an insurance company that he or she was the victim of a hit and run.

Regardless of your situation, it’s important to know how to handle yourself:

1. If you are contacted by letter, do not call the police yourself.

2. If you are contacted by phone, and you let it go to voicemail, do not return the call yourself.

3. If you actually answer the phone when the police call, politely decline to talk with the investigator until you have spoken with an attorney. You need not — and should not — offer a reason. It’s your legal right.

4. Remember that investigators are very skilled at getting people to talk — and if you start talking voluntarily after you say you want a lawyer, you are not guaranteed any legal protections. If the officer keeps “chatting” with you, just listen silently until he or she stops and repeat the statement that you don’t wish to talk anymore until you speak with an attorney.

5. Contact our office to discuss the situation. We can contact the investigator for you and determine what the investigation is about and offer guidance from there. If you are being investigated for a hit and run, we can protect your legal rights and help you understand your options.