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Vista DUI Hit-and-Run Defense Lawyer

Defending Against DUI Accident Charges

Being involved in an accident is a stressful experience that can rattle any driver. If one driver ends up leaving the scene without contacting the police or sharing insurance information with the other driver, it is considered a hit-and-run. In addition, if the police suspect that driver was intoxicated at the time of the crash, it will overlap with California’s DUI laws and lead to serious penalties when the driver is caught.

If you or someone you love was arrested for a hit-and-run in Vista, you should not hesitate to contact jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys. For more than 30 years, our Vista DUI hit-and-run defense lawyer has fought to get clients reduced charges or complete dismissals. jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys is one of the top DUI law firms in North County and can immediately begin working on your case. Call us at (760) 630-2000 to get a free case evaluation.

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Understanding California’s Hit-and-Run Laws

According to California Vehicle Code 20001, if a driver is involved in a collision, he or she is required to pull over and report the accident if the collision resulted in an injury or death, or, in the case of VC 20002, if any resultant property damage is beyond cosmetic. VC 20002 also applies when a driver hits a fixed object, such as a fence, house, building, or light pole. If the driver leaves the scene without checking on the well-being of the other driver or contacting the police, he or she can be charged with a hit-and-run.

Hit-and-run charges can come about as the result of miscommunication. For example, let’s say two drivers are involved in a rear-end collision. The front driver may get out to check the damage on his vehicle and find a small scratch, not worth exchanging insurance. He may wave at the rear driver to let her know that it is fine and there is no need to report it. However, if the front driver later realizes he was injured, he may report the accident, resulting in the rear driver facing hit-and-run charges.

In some situations, a driver may leave the scene of a collision to seek medical help, or because he wasn’t even aware he was in a collision. Cases involving hit-and-run can be confusing, and many defendants don’t know they did anything wrong until they are arrested.

Unfortunately, the San Diego District Attorney will not care for your excuses, especially if someone was injured or killed in the crash. In addition, if the police suspect that you were intoxicated during the collision, you may also face DUI charges.

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How Can Hit-and-Run Charges Overlap With DUIs?

California’s legal limit is 0.08% blood alcohol concentration, and any person who drives at or above this limit can be charged with a DUI. On its own, this can lead to jail time, significant fees, a license suspension, and the installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. If you were involved in a DUI collision, you may also face felony charges if the other driver or a passenger was injured.

Intoxicated drivers may flee the scene of a wreck to avoid having their BAC tested, to seek medical help, or out of confusion. Police may arrest a driver for DUI but later determine that the driver was involved in a hit-and-run. In these cases, the DA can charge the driver with both a hit-and-run and DUI, which will increase the penalties.

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What Are Penalties for a DUI Hit-and-Run?

“DUI” and “hit-and-run” are separate charges, but a defendant can face both in a single case. In addition, the DUI charge may be elevated to a “DUI with injuries” depending on the nature of the collision.

Hit-and-runs are wobblers, meaning you face a misdemeanor if there was only property damage and a felony if the collision involved injury or death. A misdemeanor hit-and-run can lead to:

  • Up to six months in jail;
  • A maximum fine of $1,000;
  • Restitution to the victim; and/or
  • Misdemeanor probation.

However, if you are convicted of a felony, you can be punished with:

  • Between two, three, and four years in state prison;
  • A maximum fine of $10,000;
  • Loss of certain rights;
  • Restitution to the victim; and/or
  • Felony probation.

If you are also convicted of a DUI, you face one of two sets of penalties. If this is your first DUI and no one was injured in the collision, a conviction will lead to:

  • Between 48 hours and six months in jail;
  • A maximum fine of $1,000;
  • A six-month license suspension (or longer) based on BAC; and/or
  • Vehicle impoundment for up to 30 days.

If you have a prior conviction for a DUI, the penalties will be greater.

If the hit-and-run involved an injury, then your DUI may be elevated to a DUI with injuries, which is a felony. A felony DUI can be punished with:

  • Between two, three, and four years in prison; or between three and six years if a victim suffered a great bodily injury;
  • A maximum fine of $5,000;
  • Driver license’s revocation;
  • Up to 30 months of DUI school; and
  • Additional administrative penalties.

Together, these charges can put you in prison for nearly 10 years, leave you with thousands of dollars of court fines, and require you to fulfill numerous administrative requirements with the DMV. However, you should not give up hope, as a strong defense can protect your future.

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Call a Vista DUI Lawyer Today

Beating DUI hit-and-run charges requires attacking both aspects of the case. To convict you for a hit-and-run, the prosecution must show that you were involved in a collision and fled the scene. To convict you for a DUI, they must show that you were intoxicated while operating a vehicle. Our team at jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys can work to dismiss both charges through several defenses, including:

  • It is a case of mistaken identity, and you were not involved in a hit-and-run.
  • There was minor cosmetic damage to the other driver’s vehicle, and your charge should be reduced.
  • You only showed the objective signs of intoxication.
  • The police improperly administrated a field sobriety or breathalyzer test.
  • You were not aware that you were involved in a collision.
  • You were seeking medical attention and reported the collision at a later time.
  • You were not operating the vehicle.

At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, we provide strong, reliable advocacy for our clients. Our lead Vista criminal defense lawyer is a board-certified Criminal Law Specialist who can dig into the details of your case and aggressively defend your future in and outside of the courtroom. We have handled numerous cases in North County and are well-versed at defending clients in front of judges and juries.

Do not wait. Call us at (760) 630-2000 to get a free initial consultation.

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James N. Dicks

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