Hit-and-run case has become a frequent norm of road accidents in India. In simple words, hit-and-run accidents can be described as a case, where an individual, hits another vehicle while driving and flees away from the spot. It is the criminal as well as civil responsibility of a driver to report a road mishap concerning their vehicle. As hit-and-run cases increase in India, it is essential to understand the Motor Vehicles Act, which explains laws imposed on any individual involved in hit-and-run accidents.

A Report of ministry of road and highways says that approximatly 5,00,000 people got injured in road accident in 2023.

‘India witnessed a 9.4% increase in fatalities due to road accidents in 2022 with 1.68 lakh people losing their lives last year either due to reckless driving, over speeding, drunken driving and non-compliance of traffic regulations while the total number of accidents went up by 11.9% to 4.61 lakh’, the ministry of road transport and highways said in its report.

As per the report, for the fourth consecutive year in 2022, the fatal road accident victims largely constitute young people in the productive age groups. “Young adults in the age group of 18 – 45 years accounted for 66.5% of victims during 2022,” the report said, adding that people in the working age group of 18 – 60 years share 83.4% of total road accident fatalities.

Hit-and-run case fine, now & then:

The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 includes legislation which imposes severe punishment to an individual involved in a hit-and-run accident. According to Section 161 of Motor Vehicles Act, Hit-and-run is defined as “an accident arising out of the use of a motor vehicle(s) the identity whereof cannot be ascertained in spite of reasonable efforts for the purpose.”

Sections 279, 304A, and 338 of IPC are imposed on the victims of hit-and-run incidents.

*Any person who drives vehicles rashly on the public road can be guilty of making an offense under Section 279. Imprisonment for 6 months, a fine of Rs 1000 or both can be imposed on a driver for rash driving or injuring another person on the road. The offense committed under section 279 is bailable and is cognizable by the district magistrate.

*If a driver who is not under the influence of alcohol leads to the death of a person in an accident, the crime is reported under section 304A. The rider may face imprisonment for a year which may be extended up to 2 years with a fine of more than Rs 1000 or both. 304A is a non-bailable offense, and an individual can be convicted by lifetime imprisonment.

*In extreme cases, the police may also report a hit and drive case under 302, which is a section related to the murder. A driver booked under Section 302, may face a death sentence or life imprisonment. 

*In case of minors involved in such cases, the act imposes 3 years of jail to the parents of the minor, along with some hefty fines.

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, has been passed by the Parliament and approved by the President. The amended regulations and fines will be applicable from the 1st of September 2019.

Additional Regulations

The Motor Vehicles Act 1988 also applies to hit and run cases, encompassing Sections 161, 134(A), and 134(B):

Section 161 provides

compensation: Rs 25,000 for death and Rs 12,500 for severe injury.

Section 134(A) mandates immediate medical aid by the driver.

Section 134(B) requires the driver to report the accident to the police promptly, failing which leads to penalties.

Rationale for the Amendment:

The primary challenge in hit and run cases is the absence of direct evidence, making it arduous for law enforcement to identify culprits. Witnesses are often reluctant to cooperate due to legal concerns.


After the iconic Salman Khan case in 2002, more Indians are now aware of hit-and-run incidents. He was charged with driving his vehicle onto the footpath and into a group of homeless persons. One of them had passed away. Over the years, there have been numerous hit-and-run incidents that received significant media attention. Moreover, there were several that were overlooked.

Rash driving, on-road racing, and drinking and driving are the main causes of these incidents. The victims—whether they are alive or dead—are left to suffer whereas the offenders roam free.

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