Don’t Plead Guilty on Your Hit and Run DUI – We ALL Make Mistakes!
Sacramento Hit and Run DUI Attorney Group
Many hit and run accident charges are brought because motorists panic and flee if involved in an accident. In a number of these cases, motorists do not remain at the scene because they were driving on a suspended license or they had no license at all, possessed no auto liability insurance, were transporting illegal drugs or stolen items or were drinking. In other instances, the motorist may not have known that an accident even occurred or that no property damage or injuries ensued.
Hit and run accidents are treated severely since the offender is deemed to have shirked responsibility for the accident and may have left the victims injured or otherwise at risk for greater harm. Many hit and run accidents are caused by intoxicated motorists who understand that they face serious consequences including jail for causing an accident and believe that they can flee the scene without being recognized or having to suffer the consequences.
There are instances, however, where a hit and run with DUI charge is not supported by the facts and circumstances of the accident. For the attorneys at the Sacramento DUI Attorney Group, we understand how these situations arise and have extensive experience representing drivers accused of hit and run along with DUI allegations. Even under circumstances where the motorists should have stopped, we have been able to get the DUI charge dismissed and kept our clients out of jail.
Misdemeanor Hit and Run Offenses in Sacramento
CVC 20002(a) is the statute regarding hit as a misdemeanor offense and states the obligations of a motorist involved in a property damage accident:
“The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to any property, including vehicles, shall immediately stop the vehicle at the nearest location that will not impede traffic or otherwise jeopardize the safety of other motorists. Moving the vehicle in accordance with this subdivision does not affect the question of fault. The driver shall also immediately do either of the following:
- Locate and notify the owner or person in charge of that property of the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle involved and, upon locating the driver of any other vehicle involved or the owner or person in charge of any damaged property, upon being requested, present his or her driver’s license, and vehicle registration, to the other driver, property owner, or person in charge of that property. The information presented shall include the current residence address of the driver and of the registered owner. If the registered owner of an involved vehicle is present at the scene, he or she shall also, upon request, present his or her driver’s license information, if available, or other valid identification to the other involved parties.
- Leave in a conspicuous place on the vehicle or other property damaged a written notice giving the name and address of the driver and of the owner of the vehicle involved and a statement of the circumstances thereof and shall without unnecessary delay notify the police department of the city wherein the collision occurred or, if the collision occurred in unincorporated territory, the local headquarters of the Department of the California Highway Patrol.
- Any person who parks a vehicle which, prior to the vehicle again being driven, becomes a runaway vehicle and is involved in an accident resulting in damage to any property, attended or unattended, shall comply with the requirements of this section relating to notification and reporting and shall, upon conviction thereof, be liable to the penalties of this section for failure to comply with the requirements.
- Any person failing to comply with all the requirements of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.”
Most drivers are aware that they have to exchange information with the other motorist or property owner in situations where there is damage to someone’s property other than your own. Failing to adhere to any of these requirements can result in misdemeanor charges. If there was an injury or fatality, then felony charges are likely. Should you be charged with a DUI in conjunction with causing an accident, you face enhanced charges that could easily result in jail time.
If you were arrested on a hit and run charge involving property damage coupled with a DUI, contact a defense lawyer from the Sacramento DUI Attorney Group immediately. Call us at (888) 754-9860 to speak with a Hit & Run DUI expert in Sacramento now!
Your Legal Obligations in a Property Damage Accident
In a property damage only accident, you must provide your name, license and insurance information to the other driver or property owner. If the owner is absent such as in a case where you ran over a pet or farm animal, leave a note in a conspicuous location with your name and address and a short description of how the accident occurred. Immediately notify the nearest police department in the city or town where the accident occurred or CHP station.
- If you stopped or visited by police
Should your car be identified by its license plate or other markings or particular damage to it, you can be stopped and detained while driving or met at your home by law enforcement who will want to question you. If the officer suspects you were drinking, then the officer can ask that you take a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol concentration level. You are never under a legal obligation to answer any questions from the officer other than that your car is in the driveway. In fact, saying anything could be incriminate you or implicate you in a crime, often without you being aware of it.
With few exceptions may you be penalized for not performing any FSTs, or field sobriety tests, designed to test your coordination, or to blow into the PAS, or preliminary alcohol screening test. However, if you are on probation for a prior DUI, are under 21 or are driving a commercial vehicle, then you risk arrest and/or violation of your probation. If asked to submit to chemical testing, no one in any situation has the right to speak to an attorney as to whether you should submit to a chemical test of your BAC. A refusal on your part can be used as evidence of your guilt at trial as well as constituting an aggravating circumstance that can enhance your sentence.
Immediately call a lawyer from the Sacramento DUI Attorney Group if officers appear at your home to question or to arrest you or at any time after your arrest.
- The penalties for misdemeanor hit and run are found in CVC Section 20001:
“(a) The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident and shall fulfill the requirements of Sections 20003 and 20004.
(b) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), a person who violates subdivision (a) shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) nor more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.
A typical sentence and other penalties for misdemeanor hit and run with DUI may be:
- A fine up to $1,000
- Or a fine up to $10,000 if there was an injury
- Financial restitution to victim
- County jail time of up to 6 months or up to one year if there was an injury
- DUI penalties depending on whether you have prior DUI convictions
Hit and Run DUI with Serious Injury or Fatality
CVC Section 20001 is a “wobbler” or one in which the DA can charge you with either a misdemeanor or felony for hit and run if you failed to stop at the scene of a serious injury or fatal accident or did not provide identifying and insurance information or render assistance of some type.
This section states:
“CVC 20001(a): The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident and shall fulfill the requirements of Sections 20003 and 20004…
(2) If the accident described in subdivision (a) results in death or permanent, serious injury, a person who violates subdivision (a) shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not less than 90 days nor more than one year, or by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) nor more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine. However, the court, in the interests of justice and for reasons stated in the record, may reduce or eliminate the minimum imprisonment required by this paragraph.
(3) In imposing the minimum fine required by this subdivision, the court shall take into consideration the defendant’s ability to pay the fine and, in the interests of justice and for reasons stated in the record, may reduce the amount of that minimum fine to less than the amount otherwise required by this subdivision.
(c) A person who flees the scene of the crime after committing a violation of Section 191.5 of, or paragraph (1) of subdivision (c) of Section 192 of the Penal Code, upon conviction of any of those sections, in addition and consecutive to the punishment prescribed, shall be punished by an additional term of imprisonment of five years in the state prison. This additional term shall not be imposed unless the allegation is charged in the accusatory pleading and admitted by the defendant or found to be true by the trier of fact. The court shall not strike a finding that brings a person within the provisions of this subdivision or an allegation made pursuant to this subdivision.
(d) As used in this section, “permanent, serious injury” means the loss or permanent impairment of function of a bodily member or organ.”
- You other obligations under CVC 20003 and 20004 that this section refers to are:
“(a) The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person shall also give his or her name, current residence address, the names and current residence addresses of any occupant of the driver’s vehicle injured in the accident, the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving, and the name and current residence address of the owner to the person struck or the driver or occupants of any vehicle collided with, and shall give the information to any traffic or police officer at the scene of the accident. The driver also shall render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including transporting, or making arrangements for transporting, any injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary or if that transportation is requested by any injured person.
(b) Any driver or injured occupant of a driver’s vehicle subject to the provisions of subdivision (a) shall also, upon being requested, exhibit his or her driver’s license, if available, or, in the case of an injured occupant, any other available identification, to the person struck or to the driver or occupants of any vehicle collided with, and to any traffic or police officer at the scene of the accident.”
“CVC 20004. In the event of death of any person resulting from an accident, the driver of any vehicle involved after fulfilling the requirements of this division, and if there be no traffic or police officer at the scene of the accident to whom to give the information required by Section 20003, shall, without delay, report the accident to the nearest office of the Department of the California Highway Patrol or office of a duly authorized police authority and submit with the report the information required by Section 20003.”
In other words, you have additional obligations to see that injured persons are given medical assistance or at least arrange for it. You also have to immediately report the incident to police.
Hit and Run with DUI as Felony
As a “wobbler,” the DA has the option to charge you with a misdemeanor or felony if an injury or fatality occurred. Minor injuries may only result in a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of a felony, you face:
- Fine of $1,000 to $10,000
- 16 months to 3 years in state prison
- If serious injury occurred, state prison time is 2 to 4 years
- 7 to 9 years if a fatality accident
- Probable additional prison time if more than one person was injured or killed
A serious injury is one that involves loss of a limb, broken bone or permanent impairment of a bodily organ or member. If a DUI is charged with the hit and run and you are convicted, this will typically result in the longer time served. You also risk loss of your driver’s license for up to 10 years or even life.
Defenses to Hit and Run DUI
Your Sacramento DUI Attorney Group lawyer may present any number of defenses to use in a hit and run, including:
- There was no proof you were driving
- The wrong car was identified
- You had no reason to believe that an accident occurred
- No one at the scene complained of injuries
- The property damage was to your car only
- No proof you were under the influence at the time you were driving
- The breath or blood test was not given according to established protocol
- The blood sample was not administered by a certified technician
- There was an error in the chain of evidence that tainted the sample
- The breathalyzer was invalid due to lack of proper servicing or maintenance
- You have a medical condition that affected the test results
There may be other defenses available depending on the facts and circumstances of your case. Contact one of our highly experienced attorneys at the Sacramento DUI Attorney Group today.