DUI and Hit and Run Cases
People who find themselves in an accident after a DUI are in a difficult situation. It gets even worse when they are also accused of a hit and run while being under the influence of alcohol.
This article will discuss the ins and outs of combining a Hit and Run and a DUI in California. It will cover Penalties for drivers leaving the scene in a property only (misdemeanor) damage cases and felony (bodily injury) It will go over the charges in court and the potential jail time and defenses a driver is looking at.
What is the law regarding DUI and Hit and Run Cases
You did not come here to read about DUI or Hit and Runs separately. For brevity sakes, I will refer to my other pages on those charges. You can go here for a full rundown on hit and run and DUI. If you are reading this then chances are you have already been caught or are being investigated.
In order to prove that you are guilty of a hit and run while being with a DUI they have to show you did both at the same time.
What happens at the Scene of a Hit and Run and DUI Accident?
Law enforcement will arrive on the scene of the hit and run accident and assess the damage. If it is property damage only then it will be a misdemeanor. If it involves injury hen it will be a felony.
After assessing the damage they will look at the accident and identify the drivers. This is the most important part because they need to know who to charge. The officers will use a description of the vehicle (license plate and vehicle registration to track down the driver). They will go to the person’s house for the purpose of getting a confession of being the driver and being under the influence.
What are examples of DUIs with hit and runs?
Not every accident with a high blood alcohol level and a person leaving the scene should be charged with a hit and run.
Example (Only DUI) : A person gets into an accident while being the influence and drives 50 yards away from the scene to stop because he didn’t realize both drivers got into an accident until something was wrong with his vehicle. This should not be a hit and run. It is only a DUI if the state can prove it.
Example (Only Hit and Run) Drivers get into an accident. Then one flees the scene to go home and starts smoking marijuana to calm down. After smoking the police arrive at his house and identifies the home as the driver of the car that fled. He is charged with a hit and run and driving under the influence of drugs because of marijuana. This should not a DUI. It is only a hit and run.
Defenses to DUI with a Hit and Run
There are 3 common defenses to a DUI with a Hit and Run. However, in all the situations it is important that the drivers do not talk to the police to give them all the elements to the crimes.
It was DUI Only and there was no Hit and Run
As in the example above. The person did not leave the scene. This is very factual as people are confused after an accident. Drivers will go in different directions after an accident. One may go straight because they passed the driveway and the other may make a right into the nearest lot because they had access to the turn and will end up further because both drivers left the scene.
The DUI can’t be proven.
In other cases, a person will be identified as the driver fleeing a hit-and-run accident. Law enforcement will go their house and see that they have a high blood alcohol concentration. The police and prosecutors can only show that they were driving and will want to put on the additional criminal charge of drunk driving to increase the penalties.
The Identity of the driver can’t be proven.
There will be traffic accidents where the vehicle owner can be identified but the law enforcement can’t ID him or her as the driver at that time. People often own cars and let their sister, brothers, and friends drive it. The people who the car is loaned to often find themselves in accidents or other incidents. In situations like these police will go after whoever the car is registered too. This leaves a big hole in thir case.
What is the penalty for a DUI with Hit and Run in Orange County?
Range of Penalties
Assuming these misdemeanor charges a hit and run with DUI will carry a maximum of 365 days in jail along with fines and restitution. When there are serious injuries or death and felony charges the penalties will involve prison time.
1st DUI with Hit and Run
If this is a first DUI with an accident and it was damage to property only then there will be fines, restitution to the victim and jail sentences will most likely be hung over the person’s head pending completion of cal trans of community labor. (This means it goes away eventually) An ignition interlock device may have to be installed if the driver wants their restricted license.
The court can impose jail sentences if probation is violated. There will also be probation terms such as no consumption of alcohol while driving. This means having no measurable amount of alcohol in your system at all (zero tolerance). Failure to comply with probation will result in a violation.
DUI with Injuries or Death
If the collision involved serious injury and death then you are looking at a felony. The exposure for this is significant and you are looking at prison time because of the fatal crash. Consequences will range in prison time or months in the county. Along with the severe penalties, there will also be substantial hospital bills. However, your insurance should cover this.
How can an Expereinced Attonrey Help with your Case?
An experienced lawyer with both hit and runs and DUIs can stop the investigation on your hit and run case to stop the hit and run and or DUI. In cases where both are established a mitigation strategy can be used to stop the damage to your case.