DUI and Hit and Run cases

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DUI and Hit and Run Accident cases

DUI with Accident

 

If you are charged with both a DUI and a hit and run, your case is particularly serious.  DUI and Hit and Run cases are treated seriously.

A DUI and a hit and run are two separate charges.  They are charged separately as two counts against the person charged.  However, the combination of a DUI and hit and run, especially in Orange County courts, can cause especially harsh punishment.

What is the law regarding DUI and Hit and Run cases?

Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, drugs, or any combination of both, are made illegal by the various subsections under Vehicle Code section 23152.

Hit and run is a crime, and thus illegal by Vehicle Code VC 20002.

A DUI can be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on whether or not there are any injuries to another person (other than the driver of the vehicle that was charged with the crimes). A DUI is a felony if there is “great bodily injury”, which is legalese for serious injury. A felony DUI also exists when there are three or more prior DUI convictions in the past 10 years. The OC District Attorney’s Office is particularly aggressive in punishment for DUI cases and hit and run casers in Orange County.

Likewise, a hit and run can be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on how serious the injuries (if any) are.  A hit and run that involves other cars only, or property (like a parked car, light pole, tree, sign, or railing), is always a misdemeanor.  A hit and run that causes serious injury to another person is a felony.

What needs to be proven for DUI and Hit and Run cases to be convicted?

For a DUI when a hit and run is also alleged, the jury instructions tell a judge or jury that they must find the following true beyond a reasonable doubt, in order to convict:

1. The defendant drove a vehicle;

2. When (he/she) drove, the defendant was under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug];

3. While driving under the influence, the defendant also (committed an illegal act/ [or] neglected to perform a legal duty);

AND

4. The defendant’s (illegal act/ [or] failure to perform a legal duty) caused bodily injury to another person. (If there is an injury).

The “legal duty” refers to the duties under the law to stop and exchange information whenever there is an accident.  That makes the hit and run charge.

For a hit and run, the jury instructions tell a judge or jury that they must find the following true beyond a reasonable doubt, in order to convict:

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. While driving, the defendant was involved in a vehicle accident;

2. The accident caused damage to someone else’s property;

3. The defendant knew that (he/she) had been involved in an accident that caused property damage [or knew from the nature of the accident that it was probable that property had been damaged];

AND

4. The defendant willfully failed to perform one or more of the following duties: (a) To stop immediately at the scene of the accident; OR (b) To provide the owner or person in control of the damaged property with (his/her) name and current residence address [and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle the defendant was driving].

What is the punishment for DUI and Hit and Run cases?

For a misdemeanor DUI, the punishment is as follows for:

  • Three years probation;
  • No jail time, up to 180 days (six months jail);
  • Attendance at a mandatory alcohol school program;
  • Fines and fees from $390 up to $1000 plus penalty assessments and contributions.

For a felony DUI, the punishment is as follows for:

  • 16 months state prison, up to three years in state prison;
  • Attendance at a mandatory alcohol school program;
  • Fines and fees from $390 up to $1000 plus penalty assessments and contributions.
  • Parole upon release from prison.

For a misdemeanor hit and run, the punishment is as follows for:

  • Three years probation
  • 90 days minimum jail time, up to 365 days maximum (one year jail);
  • Fines and fees from $100 up to $1000 plus penalty assessments and contributions.
  • Payment of restitution for damages caused.

For a felony hit and run, the punishment is as follows for:

  • 2 years state prison, up to four years in state prison;
  • Fines and fees from $200 up to $1000 plus penalty assessments and contributions;
  • Payment of restitution for damages caused
  • Parole upon release from prison.

Punishment for DUI and Hit and Run cases together

As you can see, there is a major difference between a felony and a misdemeanor case for both charges as filed.  With your misdemeanor or felony DUI and a misdemeanor hit and run filed together, punishment also depends on whether one charge is run concurrent (at the same time), or consecutive (starts when the first one ends).  That depends on the sentencing judge, who will hear argument regarding this issue.  Punishment possibilities, then, could be summarized as follows:

  • If run concurrent, misdemeanor charges of both DUI and a misdemeanor hit and run together would be 90 days jail minimum. 
  • When run consecutively under a maximum sentence, misdemeanor charges of both DUI and a misdemeanor hit and run together would be one year and six months of jail time.
  • If run concurrent, felony charges of both DUI and a misdemeanor hit and run together would be two years of state prison under the minimum. 
  • When run consecutively under a maximum sentence, felony charges of both felony DUI and a felony hit and run together would be five years and four months (4years plus 16 months) of California State prison time.

What are the defenses to DUI and Hit and Run cases?

There are many defenses to a DUI case, and there are defenses to a hit and run case as well.  Our approach to DUI defense is to carefully review all the evidence in the case, to look closely at all facts and all legal defenses that help our clients.

For a DUI case, defenses and our approach include the following:

We look closely at the reason you were pulled over for DUI, to see if a probable cause issue might lead to a motion to suppress evidence, and thus dismiss the DUI, and look carefully at all aspects of the field sobriety testing and scrutinize the breath test or blood testing to see if the testing machine, or agencies, complied with the strict requirements of the law.  For example, machines can malfunction or not be properly calibrated, blood levels can fail to take into consideration the rising blood alcohol pattern, and the blood sample can ferment and produce alcohol, causing an increase in the blood alcohol level.

For a hit and run case, defenses include the following:

  • You were not aware that you hit something;
  • You were not actually the driver or driving;
  • Physically you were not able to provide assistance or exchange information;
  • You did not willfully leave the scene of the accident.

How can a defense attorney help in DUI and Hit and Run cases?

A DUI defense attorney in Orange County knows what works in the court where your case is being handled and can assert that the case should not be a felony if charged as one, and that it cannot be proven, or that the elements charged as a DUI or as a hit and run do not apply in this case. Your legal defenses under criminal law apply.  And mitigation evidence, to lower the charges, would apply in any case to present information about you as a person, and ask the court or prosecutor to lower the charges, or lower the sentence in the case.

Contact our firm for help.

Contact us

Contact our firm today. We can help defend hit and run and DUI charges together and our firm has been successful for our clients in defending these cases in the past.

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