Misdemeanor vs. Felony Charges
Does a Hit and Run with a DUI Make Things Worse for the Person Charged? Of course, the answer to this question is an absolute yes. In Los Angeles County, people who are charged with DUIs who are also charged with hit and runs put themselves in a much worse position in the sense that they create more danger to the public and then, depending on whether the hit and run involved property damage or injury, that will make things much worse as well.
Most DUIs that I see filed in Los Angeles county are filed as misdemeanors (CALCRIM 2110), and most of them are usually the person's first offense.
That's not the end of the world. That can be dealt with, and we deal with these types of cases. But if you now add in a hit and run and somebody was in the car that was struck, you now put yourself in a pretty bad position.
For example, if you hurt somebody, you can bet your bottom dollar that the prosecutors will want to punish you for breaking that person. Also, you're going to be in a position where you're now looking at a felony instead of a misdemeanor. When you combine the DUI with a hit and run, you put yourself in a worse position.
It's incredible how you can go from a misdemeanor DUI where you're not typically looking at any jail time in Los Angeles County for a first offense. However, now you add in that hit and run, you start to put yourself in a position where you're looking at jail time.
Also, if you add in the mix that somebody gets hurt during the DUI hit and run in Los Angeles, you're probably going to be charged with a felony for both the hit and run and the DUI.
So now you're looking at two felonies on your record. You're also looking at potential great bodily injury allegations because if the injury is bad enough, they will add in significant physical harm, which does several things as well.
For example, it exposes you to three years in prison for the extraordinary bodily injury allegation alone.
It also makes the case a strike. It also makes you have to serve 85% of whatever time you get.
So, these DUIs are a twisted spider web, in my opinion. For example, the more things you do, especially trying to avoid your responsibility, like running away and not cooperating with the police.
Implied Consent Law in California
In a DUI situation or hit and run — whatever the case may be — the police catch you, and now they want you to take a test, and you say no.
You've made it worse for yourself because it makes them more accessible to prove the case against you. Because if you refused, it's counted as a refusal because of the implied consent law in California, and now it's going to be assumed that you're driving under the influence.
In addition to all of the wrong things I mentioned about the hit and run and DUI, now you will lose your license for a year. So, you won't be able to drive for one year without any restrictions.
That's horrible compared to if you would have just cooperated with the police. You would only be looking at probably a thirty-day suspension, or you could get your license back after thirty days on a limited basis. So, many times, people are drunk; they've used drugs, mixed drugs, and alcohol, whatever the case may be.
For example, they ran from the police, got in an accident, might have hurt somebody, now that you're sober and looking at this and trying to figure out what you're going to do here.
You have to say to yourself, I'm now going to stop the bleeding here, and I'm going to hire an attorney, and I'm going to listen to what that attorney says because that attorney is trying to help me and doing damage control.
Next Step in Preparing Your DUI Defense
I talk to people about this, and most people realize I made a mistake. I'm not going to compound the error by not listening to my attorney, not cooperating with my attorney, and doing the right thing about a DUI/hit-and-run situation.
You can recover from this. I've helped thousands of people recover over the last 26 years. So, if you or your loved one has a DUI with a hit and run, whether there are an injury, property damages, whatever the case may be, pick up the phone.
Let's talk and get this thing moving in the right direction — do damage control so you can come out the other end better, smarter, and hopefully keep you out of custody.