HIT AND RUN DUI - SAN DIEGO DUI ATTORNEY GROUP
A hit and run accident is treated harshly since the offender is considered to have neglected responsibility for the accident or to render assistance when needed. Many hit and run accidents are caused by intoxicated motorists who realize that they face serious consequences for causing an accident while impaired and believe that they can flee the scene without being recognized.
There are instances, however, where a hit and run with DUI charge is not justified or supported by the facts and circumstances of the accident. The attorneys at the San Diego DUI Attorney Group have extensive experience representing drivers accused of hit and run along with DUI allegations and have had considerable success in getting many of these cases dismissed or charges reduced.
Misdemeanor Hit and Run
The California vehicle code section regarding misdemeanor hit and run is CVC 20002(a):
“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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
b. 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.
c. 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.”
It is common knowledge that you 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. If you fail to follow any of the requirements under statute, you face misdemeanor charges. If there was an injury or fatality, then felony charges are very possible. Promptly contact a DUI defense lawyer from the San Diego DUI Attorney Group if arrested on a hit and run offense.
Legal Obligations Regarding 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 not present, leave a note in a conspicuous location giving 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 your car was identified or its license plate, you can be stopped and detained while driving or visited at your home by police officers. 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 if your responses may incriminate you. In fact, merely opening your mouth could be incriminating if you were drinking at any time, even at your home.
If stopped on the road, you do not have to perform any FSTs, or field sobriety tests designed to test your coordination, or to blow into the PAS, or preliminary alcohol screening test, unless you are on probation for a prior DUI, are under 21 or are driving a commercial vehicle. If asked to submit to chemical testing, you do not have a right to talk to an attorney before deciding to take the test. A refusal can be used as evidence of your guilt at trial and is an aggravating circumstance that can enhance your sentence.
Immediately call a lawyer from the San Diego DUI Attorney Group if officers arrive at your home to arrest you or at any time after your arrest.
CVC Section 20001 states the penalties for misdemeanor hit and run:
“(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.
In summary, a typical sentence may be:
- Fine up to $1,000
- Fine up to $10,000 if there was an injury
- 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 first or a subsequent convictiony
Hit and Run DUI with Serious Injury or Fatality
Misdemeanor or felony hit and run charges may be sought if you do not stop at the scene of a serious injury or fatal accident or provide identifying and insurance information or render assistance of some type pursuant to 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…
(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.”
Other obligations are found under CVC 20003 and 20004:
“(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.”
Hit and Run with DUI as Felony
The DA has the discretion 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, state prison time is 2 to 4 years
- 7 to 9 years if a fatality accident
A serious injury is one that involves loss of a limb or permanent impairment of a bodily organ or member. A broken limb is considered a serious injury. Having a DUI associated with the hit and run will typically result in the longer time served. Loss of license for up to 10 years or for life is not uncommon.
Defenses to Hit and Run DUI
Your San Diego DUI Attorney Group lawyer has a number of defenses to use in a hit and run, including:
- No proof of who was driving
- You had no reason to believe that an accident occurred
- No one complained of injuries
- Property damage to your car only so that no information needed to be exchanged or other obligations heeded
- You were not under the influence at the time you were driving
- Breath or blood test was not given according to protocol
- A blood sample was not administered by certified technician
- Error in chain of evidence
- Breathalyzer was invalid due to lack of proper servicing or maintenance
- A medical condition affected the test results
Other defenses may be available according to the facts and circumstances of your case. Contact one of our highly experienced attorneys at the San Diego DUI Attorney Group today.