If you get behind the wheel after having too many drinks, you run the risk of harming others. Your impaired judgment, reflexes, and depth perception may make you unaware of the drivers and pedestrians around you. In the event you collide with one, you may decide to flee the scene in fear of the consequences you may face. This can only aggravate your situation. While a DUI charge is serious on its own, adding a hit and run charge on top of it will only increase your penalties.
Two crimes in one
By California law, your DUI and hit and run charges are separate offenses. So long as the hit and run incident only damaged property, that charge will stay a misdemeanor. Your DUI charge, depending on prior DUI record, will also be a misdemeanor if no one was injured. You are still required to leave your information on damaged property if no one is present. But if your actions injured or killed a motorist or pedestrian, you will face felony charges for both the hit and run and DUI offenses. Your DUI is aggravated by leaving the scene without exchanging information or rendering reasonable assistance. Now you have committed two crimes instead of one, which will result in a greater sentence.
Hit and run can aggravate a DUI
Defending against a DUI charge is difficult enough without a hit and run charge tacked onto it. But if you didn’t injure someone else, your hit and run charge could remain a misdemeanor. If you crashed into someone who then threatened you, you may have had to leave the scene out of a reasonable fear for your own safety, but it is still can be a hit and run unless you also report the accident right away to police and explain why you left. In this case, you may still face DUI charges if you were under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both over the legal alcohol limit. The DUI charge alone carries potential jail, fines, and license suspension but it may not be aggravated if it is determined you did not Hit and Run under the circumstances.
DUI charges can make your life difficult. Adding a hit and run charge further complicates matters and can greatly increase your sentence exposure. Consulting with an experienced DUI defense lawyer can review the facts and circumstances involved in your case and check for any defenses as well as help you get the best resolution of your case.