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Compounding a DUI with a Hit-and-Run Charge

Posted on in DUI

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.

Responding to a DUI Accident

California requires all drivers involved in accidents to take certain actions, including:

  • Immediately notifying police of the incident
  • Remaining at the scene until the responding police officer allows you to leave
  • Coming to the aid of anyone who may be injured at the scene
  • Providing your insurance and contact information if others involved in the accident ask you for it

It does not matter if someone else was at fault for the accident or you do not believe anyone was injured. Potential defenses against a hit-and-run accusation are that you were reasonably unaware of the accident or that another party in the accident was threatening your safety.

Contact a San Francisco DUI Defense Attorney

While remaining at the scene of a vehicle accident is the correct and responsible decision, you may be charged with DUI if the police officer believes you are intoxicated. A Sonoma, California, DUI defense lawyer at Burglin Law Office, P.C., can help you prevent a DUI conviction or reduce your punishment. Schedule a free consultation by calling 415-729-7300.



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