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Compounding a DUI with a Hit-and-Run ChargeA person who gets into a vehicle accident may panic and flee the scene before police arrive – especially if they fear that the officer may arrest them for a crime such as driving under the influence. A hit-and-run charge involving personal injury or death can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the injuries and the circumstances of the accident. The same applies to DUI with injury and DUI vehicular manslaughter charges. The penalties become more severe when you combine a DUI charge with a hit-and-run charge. However, California is trying to fix a loophole in its criminal code that can benefit people suspected of DUI who flee an accident.

Hit-and-Run vs. DUI

It is difficult for prosecutors to prove that someone charged with a hit-and-run was also under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident. It may be hours or days before the defendant is arrested for the hit-and-run, by which point there is no longer chemical evidence of DUI. While a hit-and-run is still a serious charge, consider the difference in penalties:

  • A felony hit-and-run causing basic injury carries up to three years in prison, and a felony hit-and-run causing serious injury or death carries up to four years in prison.
  • A felony DUI with injury carries up to six years in prison, and a felony DUI manslaughter with gross negligence carries up to 10 years in prison.

Thus, a drunk driver who commits a hit-and-run could receive a lesser punishment than if they had remained at the scene. California legislators recently proposed a law that would increase the maximum prison sentence for a hit-and-run resulting in death to six years.

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DUI in California Can Cost Tens of Thousands of DollarsThere is a price to pay if you are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Many people think of the possibility of jail time and the likely loss of their driving privileges, but there is also a monetary cost to a conviction or even being arrested. A DUI conviction in California costs between $10,000 and $15,000 on average, with the cost going higher depending on the severity of the charge and other circumstances. The cost includes fees that are directly related to your conviction and expenses that can be tied back to the conviction:

  1. Fines: Punishment for a DUI conviction includes a fine, which can be from $390 to $1,000. The fine for a DUI conviction involving an injury can go as high as $5,000.
  2. Court Fees: On top of the fine, the court will charge an administrative fee to help pay for its operating expenses. The exact amount will vary by court, but the fee can be more than $1,000.
  3. Victim Compensation Fee: Those who are convicted of DUI in California must pay a fee to the California Victim Compensation Fund, even if no one was injured during their incident.
  4. Legal Fees: The best way to prevent a DUI conviction and to avoid the related fees is to hire a criminal defense attorney. However, you will need to pay the attorney for their services.
  5. Vehicle Towing Fees: After you are arrested on suspicion of DUI, your vehicle will be towed and impounded at your expense. Paying to get your vehicle back will likely cost hundreds of dollars.
  6. Ignition Interlock Fees: The court may order you to install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) on your vehicle as a condition for allowing you to drive. A BAIID costs drivers an average of $70 to $100 per month, including the initial installation fee and ongoing maintenance fees.
  7. Class Fees: Many people convicted of DUI must attend classes on the dangers of drunk driving, which can cost several hundred dollars.
  8. License Reinstatement Fee: Applying to reinstate your driver’s license after it has been suspended will cost $125.
  9. Insurance Increases: Your auto insurance provider will likely increase your rate because you will be viewed as a higher-risk client. The increase could cost thousands of dollars over several years until you are able to establish a record of safe driving.
  10. Lost Wages: Attending court for your DUI case will likely interfere with your work, causing you to miss time. If you are convicted of DUI, you may lose your job, especially if your job requires you to drive.

There are other potential costs that do not apply to every case but could be expensive, such as having to post bail or an accident victim filing a lawsuit against you.

Contact a Richmond, California, DUI Defense Attorney

The cost of a DUI case will go down considerably if you can prevent a conviction. Schedule a free consultation with a San Francisco DUI defense lawyer at Burglin Law Office, P.C., by calling 415-729-7300.

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Using Video Evidence to Your Advantage in a DUI CaseWhen trying to prove whether or not a driver was intoxicated at the time of their arrest, video footage from the scene can be compelling evidence. Instead of relying on individual testimony, the court can see the circumstances leading up to the arrest and how the officer and arrestee behaved during the incident. If you have been charged with driving under the influence in California, you need to obtain available video recordings from your arrest to determine whether they would be helpful evidence during your case.

How to Obtain Video

Many police officers are required to have dashboard cameras on their vehicles and body cameras on themselves. Unfortunately, the state will not automatically provide this evidence to you for the purpose of your defense case. Your defense attorney must submit a discovery request with the court to obtain the video evidence. If the prosecution refuses to turn over the video, you will need to file a formal discovery motion to force them to comply.

There may be video evidence from a surveillance camera for a nearby property that recorded your DUI arrest. To obtain this video evidence, you will need to file a subpoena with the video’s owner.

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The Consequences of DUI for Commercial Vehicle DriversA conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is costly for anyone, but commercial vehicle drivers have even more at stake. You may lose your career as a commercial driver with a DUI on your record. Even being arrested on suspicion of DUI will disrupt your employment and put your job in jeopardy because of the automatic administrative driver’s license suspension. Challenging your license suspension and criminal charge is critically important for commercial drivers who want to protect their livelihoods.

What Qualifies as a Commercial Vehicle?

People who operate commercial vehicles in California must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). A Class B license allows you to operate large trucks, which are any vehicles that weigh more than 13 tons or three tons if they have three axles. A Class C license allows you to operate other commercial vehicles, including school buses, vehicles carrying more than 10 passengers, double trailers, and vehicles transporting hazardous substances.

Additional Consequences for Commercial Drivers

A person operating a non-commercial vehicle can be charged with DUI if they have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater or are deemed to be impaired because of alcohol or drug use. If you are operating a commercial vehicle, the BAC limit is lowered to 0.04 percent. Whether you are charged while driving a commercial or non-commercial vehicle, there are serious consequences for your CDL:

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California Man Gets Life in Prison for DUI Murder Involving InfantA 51-year-old man from Porterville, California, was recently sentenced to life in prison following his conviction for an incident of driving under the influence of alcohol that resulted in the death of a 1-year-old boy. A Tulare County court had previously found the man to be guilty of second-degree murder, which is the most serious criminal charge someone can face when they are accused of a DUI fatality in California. As opposed to DUI manslaughter, a DUI murder conviction requires the prosecution to prove that the defendant acted with malice. A second-degree murder conviction has a minimum of 15 years in prison. There are several aggravating factors that likely caused the defendant to receive the maximum prison sentence allowable for this conviction under California law:

  1. Reckless Driving: According to reports of the incident, the defendant caused the crash by attempting to pass the victim’s vehicle. He was driving at a high speed and crossed over two solid, yellow lines in order to use the left lane of oncoming traffic. At the same time, the victim’s vehicle was making a left turn into a private driveway.
  2. Hit-and-Run: Following the collision that crushed the victim’s vehicle, the defendant reportedly attempted to flee the scene on foot. Bystanders at the scene followed him, allowing police to apprehend him. Along with second-degree murder, the defendant was convicted of felony hit-and-run that resulted in death or injury.
  3. Multiple Victims: Besides the infant who died, two women in the vehicle were injured. One woman suffered serious injuries that required extensive treatment.
  4. High Level of Intoxication: According to a blood alcohol concentration test, the defendant has a 0.13 percent BAC two hours after the incident. This is well above the 0.08 percent BAC limit and left little doubt that he was impaired at the time of the incident.
  5. Prior Convictions: On the date of the incident, the defendant was still on probation for a 2015 DUI conviction. He had also been convicted for DUI in 2000 and 2010. Prosecutors often use prior DUI convictions when pursuing a second-degree murder conviction because it proves that the defendant was aware of the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol.
  6. Human Element: When deciding on the length of a prison sentence, a judge will consider the circumstances of the case and the likelihood that the defendant may repeat the offense. The fact that it was an infant who was killed in the incident likely affected the judge’s decision. The mother read a statement during the sentencing hearing that spoke of the profound impact of her son’s death and asked for the maximum sentence because she claimed the defendant had not taken responsibility for the incident or shown remorse. Given that this was his fourth DUI conviction, the court likely agreed with her.

Contact a Sonoma, California, DUI Defense Attorney

Every defendant in a DUI trial is entitled to a skilled defense attorney, even if all of the evidence seems to point against them. If a not guilty verdict seems unlikely, the attorney can still help the defendant get a fair sentence. A San Francisco DUI defense lawyer at Burglin Law Offices, P.C., will represent you and your best interests during your trial. To schedule a free consultation, call 415-729-7300.

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