Is It Illegal To Hit A Deer and Drive Off?

Back in the day I used to have to drive back and forth from work though the back roads of Missouri. While it was peaceful you would also encounter a bit of wildlife on your drive. Occasionally near missing deer and whatever else walks onto the road in the early mornings of the day. But what happens if you actually hit a deer on your peaceful drive? Is it illegal to just hit a deer and drive off?

No, it isn’t illegal to hit a deer and drive off. In fact, it is actually illegal in some states to approach or touch a deer after hitting it with your car. This also includes taking the deer with you as roadkill. However, there are still steps that should be taken to report the accident and properly handle the situation.

Keep reading if you just hit a deer or are looking for information before that dreadful accident happens.

What To Do If You’ve Hit A Deer?

  1. The first thing you should do is pull over to a safe location and assess the situation, check for any injuries or damage done to your vehicle.
  2. Call 911 or the local non-emergency number to report the accident and request assistance if needed.
  3. Contact your insurance company and file a claim for the damages .
  4. Depending on the state you live in, it may also be necessary to inform the local game and fish department of the accident.
  5. If possible, move your vehicle out of the road to prevent any further accidents.

Which States Is It Illegal To Hit a Deer and Drive Off?

It is illegal to hit a deer and drive off in the following states:

  • Michigan states that “report the crash to the nearest police agency and your insurance company.”
  • Minnesota states that “If a deer is struck but not killed by a vehicle, keep a distance as deer may recover and move on. If a deer does not move on, or poses a public safety risk, report the incident to a DNR conservation officer or other local law enforcement agency.”

In these states, it is required by law to report a deer or other large animal accident to the authorities within a specific time frame. Failure to do so can result in fines or even potential hunting license suspension

Does Hitting A Deer Count As An Accident?

In most cases, hitting a deer with your car will count as an accident for insurance purposes. This means that it could potentially affect your insurance rates or result in the use of your insurance deductible.

However, some insurance companies may have specific coverage options for accidents involving wildlife. It is important to check with your insurance provider to understand what is covered and how to properly file a claim.

Certain states protect you from getting charged more and consider the accident as a no-fault accident. This means that your insurance rates cannot increase as a result of hitting a deer.

What to do if you hit a deer and it runs away

So the main suspect of your crime has left the scene, what do you do now? You’ll want to make sure you take photos of the damage the deer has done to your car, even if it seems minor. It’s also important to note any noticeable characteristics of the deer that hit you such as size or markings.

If you are able, try to take note of where the accident occurred and approximately what time it happened. This information will be necessary when reporting the accident to both law enforcement and your insurance company.

Can You Keep A Deer If You Hit It With Your Car?

In most states, it is illegal to approach or possess roadkill. This includes keeping a deer that was hit by your car or taking it with you.

Instead, contacting the local game and fish department or proper authorities should be done to properly handle and dispose of the animal.

Some states do have specific allowances for possessing roadkill, such as obtaining a permit or only being allowed to keep the meat for consumption. Though most officers can issue you a permit once they respond to the accident. It is important to check with your state’s laws and regulations before attempting to keep a deer hit by your car.

How to Avoid Deer-Vehicle Collisions

There are some steps that can be taken to prevent hitting a deer while driving.

  1. Stay alert and watch for deer crossing signs. These are typically placed in areas with high incidents of deer crossings.
  2. Use high beams when possible at night, as this can help illuminate the eyes of any nearby deer.
  3. Avoid swerving or sudden braking if a deer is spotted on the road, as this can result in loss of control and potential accidents with other vehicles.
  4. Slow down in areas known for a high deer population.
  5. Be especially cautious during peak deer mating and migration seasons.


Overall, it is important to always stay alert while driving and be prepared for potential wildlife crossings. Accidents involving deer can cause serious damage and potentially injure yourself and others. Following the proper steps after being involved in a deer-vehicle collision can help ensure a safe resolution to the situation.