Both hit-and-run accidents and collisions with drunk drivers are devastating experiences for drivers. Both can leave a victim feeling helpless and unsure if they will ever fully recover. Worse, if you are guilty of causing either type of accident, it can be easy to fall into a frenzy of worry if you will ever get your life back on track, given the overwhelming consequences of either incident. Whether you have been the victim or negligent party in a hit-and-run or drunk driving incident, having the support of an experienced attorney can make a dramatic difference in the results of your case.
Consequences of a Hit-and-Run vs. a DUI
Hit-and-Run. Fleeing the scene of an accident is a very serious offense – regardless if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The consequences of hit-and-runs vary widely, however. They depend largely on the extent of the damage to any vehicles involved, public or private property damages, and of course, any injuries sustained by affected parties.
In some states, such as California, a hit-and-run is considered a misdemeanor in mild cases. Severe cases, on the other hand – accidents in which someone was injured or died – lead to a felony for the negligent party. Misdemeanors form hit-and-runs typically result in fines and jail time of up to one year, whereas felonies will result in much harsher penalties and/or significantly more prison time.
DUI. The difference in consequences for a DUI is that there doesn’t have to be an accident at all for there to be legal consequences. On its own, a DUI is legally recognized as a misdemeanor. Depending on the accident and the resulting damages, injuries, or deaths, it can be upgraded to a felony charge. This is also dependent on whether the defendant has been charged with a DUI in the past. (If an individual has received 1-2 DUI charges in the past in the same state, any subsequent DUI charges are considered felonies.)
If any individual is being charged with a DUI for the first time, and there were no damages, injuries, or deaths, they will most likely be charged with a few days in jail, along with having their license suspended for a minimum of 6 months and a few thousand dollars in fines. If the defendant has been convicted of DUIs before, they will likely get a maximum of 5 years in jail, up to $100,000 in fines, and permanent revocation of their license.
Consequences of a Hit-and-Run DUI Charge
If you are charged with both a hit-and-run and DUI, you will be subject to the consequences of both offenses, typically amounting to jail time and fines. However, depending on the severity of the case, there may be additional charges added, such as reckless driving or vehicular homicide.
If you are guilty of either of these offenses or both, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. They will help you navigate your arrest and pending charges and ensure the greatest protection of your rights throughout the process.