Hit and Run DUI
HIT AND RUN DUI IN CALIFORNIA
Arrested for Hit and Run?
In California, a DUI is often accompanied by a Hit and Run charge (when applicable). Unfortunately, the person who is arrested for DUI is usually deemed to be the party at fault, and it will be up to your lawyer to prove otherwise. Moreover, prosecutors see the Hit and Run as an aggravating factor to the DUI. If injury is involved, prosecutors are more likely to file a felony DUI charge even if it is your first offense. Either way, prosecutors will demand restitution from you or your insurance company.
When Hit and Run DUI Charges Collide in California:
Hit & Run DUI Realities
Did you know that a Hit and Run is a Hit and Run only when the state can prove who was driving the vehicle? Which is why it is paramount that you contact a lawyer before falling into the trap of speaking to law enforcement after an alleged Hit and Run has occurred.
A lot of people have a misconception that if the police have your license plate, it’s game over and you might as well as start talking and do a bunch of stuff to incriminate yourself. The reality is, just having the license plate of a vehicle involved in a possible crime is almost never enough to convict anyone of anything. The fact is, many people could be driving a particular vehicle at any given time, especially in a place like Southern California. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt requires a lot more than just a hunch. So, unless someone starts talking (ie. you, your spouse, roommate, friend, family members…etc), the government may have no viable case against anyone.
Types of Penalties
In California, if you are convicted of a DUI, you may face the following penalties:
A DUI conviction often involves hefty fines, made up of a base fine plus a 4-5x penalty multiplier.
A DUI is at least a misdemeanor punishable by jail time, which increases with the amount of priors and/or injury caused.
Just being arrested for a DUI will trigger automatic consequences on your ability to drive. Actions taken by the court and DMV can be overlapping and difficult to navigate.
A conviction for DUI will require attendance in a minimum 3-month alcohol program. You may also need to attend such a program to maintain your ability to drive.
Ignition Interlock Device
The IID device will randomly require a alcohol-less breath sample for the car to start and continue runing. It is often required after a DUI conviction and/or an adverse ruling at the DMV Hearing.
This can be ordered/bargained as part of the sentence, or as an alternative to paying fines. Generally it consists of lighter work than Community Labor, but more hours.
Also known as Work Release, this is often required for a DUI with accident, and can sometimes be an alternative to jail (8 hrs. = 1 day jail). An example is picking up trash on the freeway. It consists of harder work than community service, but fewer hours.
An ankle bracelet is often negotiated as a subsitute to jail where the defendant has medical issues or might lose employment due to a long sentence. The wearer is allowed to go to work, but must return home by a certain hour. The device can also detect alcohol.
If convicted of a first DUI, the mandatory period of probation is 3 years. Repeat offenders may face up to 5 years of probation. This probation is informal (ie. no probation officer) unless the DUI is a felony.
HIT AND RUN DEFENSE STRATEGIES
Don’t Assume You Have to Plead Guilty
Lack of Knowledge
One of the key elements in a hit and run case is the driver’s awareness of the accident. If a driver was not aware that an accident occurred or that damage was caused, this can be used as a defense. This is particularly applicable in cases where the damage was minor and could have gone unnoticed.
No Damage to Another’s Property
A hit and run charge requires that the accident resulted in damage to another person’s property. If the only damage was to the driver’s own vehicle, this could be a valid defense.
In some cases, a driver may be wrongly identified as the person responsible for a hit and run. Eyewitness accounts can be unreliable, and errors can occur in police investigations. If a driver can provide evidence that they were not involved in the accident, this can be a strong defense.
Compliance with Legal Obligations
If a driver can demonstrate that they complied with their legal obligations after the accident – such as stopping at the scene, providing the necessary information to the other party, and reporting the accident to the police – this can also serve as a defense.
Expert Legal Representation
If you’ve been charged with a hit and run DUI in California, it’s crucial to seek legal representation as soon as possible. Our experienced attorneys can help you understand your charges, explore potential defense strategies, and fight for your rights in court.
Effective Defenses against a DUI Charge
1. Challenging Breath Test Results
When a person is still absorbing alcohol, the breath machine will ALWAYS read to high. It is up to your lawyer to show the discrepancy between reality and the reading.
2. No Driving Defense
If there’s no evidence you were operating the vehicle near the time of the arrest, we challenge the fundamental premise of your DUI charge.
3. Illegal Arrest or Stop
We can contest the legality (probable cause) of your DUI stop or arrest, which could lead to dismissal if your rights were violated.
4. Rising Blood Alcohol Level
Alcohol absorption rates vary based on race, sex, time/amount of consumption..etc We argue that your BAC may have risen between the time of driving and the time of testing.
5. Mouth Alcohol
We highlight factors like belching or acid reflux, which can skew breathalyzer results by releasing alcohol from the stomach into the mouth during breath testing.
6. Biased Field Sobriety Tests
We examine the administration of field tests for bias or error that could compromise their validity.
7. Faulty Breathalyzer Calibration
We scrutinize the maintenance and calibration records of the breathalyzer used, disputing results from improperly calibrated devices.
8. No Miranda Warning
Miranda must be given if there is post-arrest interrogation. We pinpoint the time of the actual arrest/cuffing and try to exclude statements made thereafter absent Miranda.
9. Blood Fermentation
If blood vials lack sufficient preservatives, the blood can ferment, leading to higher BAC readings.
10. Medical Conditions
Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypoglycemia, auto-brewery syndrome, or gerds (acid reflux), can produce falsely high BAC readings.
11. DUI Checkpoint
A DUI checkpoint must be properly set up and maintained, otherwise the stop itself lacks probable cause.
12. Forced Blood Draw
Fedral law requires a warrent for a blood draw unless there is consent. Lacking consent / warrent means the blood result can be excluded.
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Freaqent Asked Questions
I just picked up a DUI and I blew over the legal limit. I’m guilty, so what’s the point of hiring a lawyer?
First of all, being over the legal limit is just the starting point, and all DUI cases that are won involve people who are at or above the legal limit (or they refused). If you were under the legal limit, you wouldn’t even have been cited. Second, just because you feel you are guilty, it doesn’t mean you need to have the full brunt of the consequences crash down on you. With proper representation, things like jail time, license suspension, fines, probation, alcohol school…etc. can be reduced or eliminated, guilty or not.
If I hire a lawyer, is it possible that I will never need to appear in court?
Yes. If you are facing a misdemeanor DUI and nothing else, a lawyer can appear on your behalf without you throughout the entire proceeding. At the DMV, if your testimony is required, you can testify telephonically. If there are any forms you need to sign for court, your lawyer can mail these to you and have you sign in front of a notary. All paperwork that you need can be mailed to you by your lawyer.
I received a letter or voice message from law enforcement asking me to contact them regarding an incident. What should I do？
You should absolutely NOT contact law enforcement yourself. Most of the time this kind of letter is sent when there is not enough evidence yet to charge you, and they are hoping you will help them out by incriminating yourself. Always contact a lawyer first, and if necessary, speak only through counsel.
I was arrested for DUI. Do I need SR-22?
SR-22 is just another term for “Proof of Insurance.” Your insurance company needs to file it for you for 3 years only upon conviction of a DUI.
CALIFORNIA HIT AND RUN DUI ATTORNEY JEFF YEH
Call THE DUI SPECIALIST
If you’ve been charged with DUI, it’s crucial that you reach out to a DUI specialist right away. As a dedicated DUI lawyer, I have personally handled thousands of drunk driving cases, leveraging my expertise to defend my clients effectively. I know the prosecutors and Judges and how they conduct their business in the various courts throughout California. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling me directly at (213) 446 – 2495.