If you're charged with a hit-and-run DUI in one of the Los Angeles Criminal Courts, obviously you're going to want to get an attorney on your side who does these cases and has had success.
The reason it's so important is because just a run-of-the-mill DUI where somebody commits some minor traffic offense and then get pulled over and has a blood alcohol level that's a .08 or greater, is going to be treated much differently than a situation where somebody is striking another vehicle – potentially injuring one or more people – and then leaving the scene of the accident.
Obviously, prosecutors – when it comes to these types of cases – are going to be very concerned for the public safety and be looking to punish an offender who hits a vehicle, causes a serious injury and leaves the party to deal with it themselves, instead of rendering aid – especially if the accident is the fault of the hit-and-run driver who is also DUI.
Blood Alcohol Level
So, if you're charged with a hit and run DUI matter, a lot of times in these cases the person's blood alcohol level is very high as well, you've got all the bad buzz words that the prosecutors do not like to see, and judges and prosecutors alike are looking to deal with people in a very harsh manner who have hit-and-run DUI's in LA County.
One big thing that really sticks in the craw, so-to-speak, is that there's a lot of DUI matters where people are killing other people on the road – innocent people who have no alcohol in their system and are not doing anything wrong.
This is a situation where if you hit somebody and you kill them and you're DUI – now in LA County – the prosecutors are charging murder in that case, and then the defense has to fight to try to either get a vehicular manslaughter or not guilty verdict if the prosecutors can't prove their case.
Obviously, you don't even want to be in that position in the first place. So, if you're charged with a felony hit-and-run – or even a misdemeanor hit-and-run related to a DUI matter, it's time to get an attorney who has experience with these cases that you can sit down with, go over your whole case and get a game plan together of exactly what you're gong to do to fight the case – if that's the right thing to do – or, on the other hand, what you're going to do to mitigate it and they negotiate a good resolution that protects your record, your rights, your freedom, gets you out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible.
Defenses for DUI Hit and Run Cases
One big defense, obviously, is to say that you were not the person driving the car or that your car was not involved in the accident. Obviously, it's going to depend on the circumstances of your case whether or not the police have the ability to prove that your car was involved in an accident, and that you were driving it.
So, a lot of times we'll see the people seizing vehicles and running tests on them to see if they can get any type of a paint match or see some damage that's consistent with what the witnesses say happened in the DUI hit-and-run matter.
Another issue related to a DUI hit-and-run is whether or not you were drinking and driving at the time. A lot of times in these hit-and-run cases, the people who hit the other vehicle and drive away actually get away. And then the person becomes, when the police get their hands on them, whether or not that particular person was a .08 or greater at the time of driving. That's the key language, “at the time of driving.” How high your blood alcohol level was hours later, or days later, obviously doesn't matter. What were you at the time?
So, this is where good criminal defense attorneys who do a lot of DUI cases related to hit-and-runs, obviously are going to come in handy when it comes to defending these cases because for an expert to try to extrapolate backwards from hours or days – it's very difficult – if not impossible.
So, obviously, if the police get their hands on you related to a DUI hit-and-run case in LA, you're not going to want to make any statements. You're going to want to talk to your attorney. Let your attorney deal with the police, because if they can't prove that you were DUI at the time of the accident, or they can't prove that you were the actual driver or both, the only way they're going to be able to do it is if you give them the information.
So, if you sit down with the police because they've got your car trapped in some impound lot with a hold on it and in order to get it out you give them a full blown statement related to the DUI hit-and-run possible injury/possible death, you've now put yourself in a horrible position because you've basically given them the evidence that they need in order to convict you and they're going to use it, trust me. That's one of their best investigative tools – people saying stuff that incriminates them.
Next Step in Your Defense of Hit and Run
So, if you're involved in a hit-and-run, someone's injured, or you don't know if someone's injured, you're going to need to sit down with an attorney like me who has been doing this for twenty-five years. We need to find out exactly what happened. What you did. What you didn't do.
Maybe one of your family members was driving the car or one of your friends and you weren't the one driving, but the car is registered to you. You're going to have to get in front of an attorney who knows what they're doing, has had success in dealing with these types of cases and can protect all your rights and interest before they're taken away from you and before you give some sort of a statement that incriminates you.