Getting charged with a hit-and-run can potentially lead to significant fines and criminal penalties. Those fines and penalties are “enhanced” if you are convicted of a hit-and-run while intoxicated (DUI) and operating a motor vehicle.
California law requires you to stop if you collide with another vehicle or hit a pedestrian. If you do not stop, but instead drive away, you are committing a “hit-and-run.” This is the case even if you hit a parked car and decide to simply leave the scene.
Hit-and-Run Charge Coupled with a DUI Charge
If you hit a vehicle or pedestrian while intoxicated and flee the scene, you are likely facing multiple criminal charges: a DUI charge, hit and run charge, and a potential reckless driving or vehicular homicide charge. This third charge depends on the severity of the accident and whether anyone was seriously hurt or killed. If someone was hurt or killed, you are looking at felony criminal charges. If convicted, the judge has the discretionary authority to “enhance” your punishment in numerous ways.
A conviction of both vehicular homicide and a DUI related to a hit and run accident will typically result in an extra five years in state prison added to your sentence.
If, on the other hand, no one was hurt in the hit-and-run, then you could be facing misdemeanor charges. An exception is if you have multiple prior DUI convictions. For example, if this is your fourth DUI offense, you will automatically face felony criminal charges.
Even First-Time Offenders Face Serious Penalties
California courts are not lenient when it comes to a hit-and-run DUI charge, even if this is your first offense and do not have a prior DUI conviction. If convicted, you could still be ordered to serve up to four years in state prison and pay a fine totaling $10,000.
However, if you have retained an experienced Beverly Hill DUI defense lawyer, he or she can negotiate with the prosecutor to try and have the charges dropped to a “wobbler DUI” (a.k.a. gross misdemeanor). If your felony charge is dropped to a misdemeanor, you would be subjected to less severe penalties. For example, as opposed to serving a multi-year prison sentence, you might instead be ordered to serve probation.
Now is the Time to Speak to a DUI Defense Lawyer
Whether this is your first DUI offense or you have an extensive DUI record, you have the right to competent, experienced legal representation. As you can see, a DUI hit-and-run conviction carries significant consequences including potential prison time and thousands of dollars in fines. The Law Office of Peter Berlin can help. The firm is comprised of dedicated and experienced legal professionals who take pride in providing premier DUI defense representation to all clients, whether they live in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, West Hills, or anywhere else in California. We have the experience it takes to assess what we need to provide in a given case in order to serve our clients.