A hit and run is a very serious offense that can be treated as a misdemeanor or felony under California Vehicle Code 20001 and 20002. It is common to hear that drivers flee a scene after a vehicle accident because of fear of being charged with a DUI. In the courts in California, a hit-and-run offense and a DUI are two separate offenses that can be charged with fines and jail time. In other terms, a hit-and-run will be punished with separate charges that will be placed on top of the punishments of a DUI.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in their study “Hit-and-Run Crashes: Prevalence, Contributing Factors, and Countermeasures” there were approximately 737,100 hit-and-run accidents in 2016. That means that on average, a hit-and-run crash occurs every 43 seconds in the United States. The AAA explains that in 2016 approximately 2,049 deaths resulted from hit-and-run crashes. Their research also shines a light on a study conducted by Hopkins et al. (2017). The study surveyed 52 individuals and they found that 13 percent of those surveyed were afraid of reporting a car accident while driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
If you wish to learn more about the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, you are encouraged to visit their study at https://aaafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/18-0058_Hit-and-Run-Brief_FINALv2.pdf
Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a serious offense that becomes more complicated when the violator leaves the scene of the accident without proper reporting. Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs is a violation of California Vehicle Code 23152. It common in courts to have two separate charges for violation of VC 23152 and violation of VC 20002 and 20001.
What is driving under the influence?
In California, it is illegal for individuals to be operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Individuals who are operating a motor vehicle while drunk or high off drugs may be charged and convicted of violating California Vehicle Code 23152. VC 23152 explains that it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. However, if you are a commercial vehicle operator, you may not operate a vehicle if your BAC is over 0.04 percent. Driving under the influence can result in the loss of life which is why any violation under VC 23152, is heavily penalized.
Is driving under the influence of marijuana illegal?
According to VC 23152 (f), it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana and/or any other types of drugs and/or narcotics. Driving under the influence of marijuana has an effect on the person's motor functions affecting their perception and their ability to react to the demands of the road. Driving under the influence of drugs can result in the loss of life and property damage which is why it is treated the same as driving under the influence of alcohol.
What are the consequences of a DUI?
A simple first, second, and third DUI offense, are treated as misdemeanors in the state of California. However, one of the biggest consequences of a DUI is that it will appear on your criminal record for ten years. If you are charged with a fourth DUI within ten years, the fines and penalties will be substantially higher than those described in first, second, and third DUI offenses.
In general, if you are convicted of a DUI, you should expect the following:
- License suspension
- Jail or prison time
- Ignition interlock device (IED) program
- DUI School
If your DUI has caused bodily injury and/or damage to property, you will be expected to pay back for damages known as reparations. However, if you are charged with a DUI/Hit and Run, you can expect more severe punishments. To learn more about the consequences of a first DUI offense, you may visit our page at https://www.duilawyerlongbeach.com/dui-steps/first-time-dui
Common examples of DUI hit and Run
A DUI can be a reason to leave a vehicle accident scene without reporting it to authorities. Many individuals that choose to leave an accident and fail to report it to authorities, do so because they are afraid of the repercussions that a DUI can have on their record. What most drivers don’t know is that if they are caught leaving a vehicle accident scene without reporting it to local authorities, they may be charged with additional fines and penalties for violating California Vehicle Code 20001 and 20002. Failing to report a car accident, can result in misdemeanor or felony charges. Sometimes it's better to suck it up and report the case when you have the chance. If you find yourself in the following situations it may be the time to contact a lawyer to learn the best way to challenge your charges.
- On her way home, Jill hits a car and fears that reporting it will lead to a DUI conviction. She is afraid that her BAC will show a higher alcohol content so she decides to leave the scene without leaving a note. Later, Jill finds that there was a person videotaping the event. Jill can be charged with violating California Vehicle Code 20001 and 20002. In this case, it may be difficult to prove that the accident was a result of a DUI, however, she may still be charged with violating the accident reporting laws.
- Tom is on his way to his friend's house with a BAC of 0.09 percent. He has already faced two separate convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol. On his way to a friend’s house, he hits a car and decides to flee the scene.
- Samantha is smoking a joint while driving on the highway. The streets are dark and she is certain no one is on the streets so she is driving a little faster than usual. However, she hits an object and assumes that it must have been a rodent. Samantha actually hit a person, but she since she did not realize it, she kept driving. Samantha can be charged for violating California Vehicle Code 20001 and 20002.
Whatever the scenario may be, if you hit something while driving on the highway, it is important to stop, exchange information (if you hit another car), and report it to the law enforcement agencies. Even if the object you hit is of no importance to you or you may think it's not important, you may still be charged for violating the local reporting laws. In either instance, even if you did not cause the accident but you were hit, it is mandated by law to report the incident to a law enforcement agency.
What to do in case of a vehicle-related accident that causes damage to property?
The State of California describes that when an accident occurs on the highway all individuals involved in the accident must stop and exchange information. Under Vehicle Code 20002, which describes a vehicle accident resulting in damage to property (including other vehicles), the driver at fault must locate the property owner and exchange contact information. The information that the driver at fault must present is his or her driver’s license and vehicle registration. The information should include the driver's address and should also include the address and the contact information of the registered owner of the vehicle at fault. If you are the registered owner of the vehicle you will need to provide your license which indicates your address and your vehicle registration (as mentioned above).
Under VC 20002, if the owner of the damaged property cannot be found, the driver is obligated by law to leave a note on the vehicle or damaged property. The note should include the driver’s name, address, and if the driver is not the owner of the vehicle, he or she will need to provide the contact information of the owner of the vehicle. In addition, the accident should be reported to the local authorities (such as the police) as with any other vehicle-related accidents.
What should I do if I caused bodily harm to another person while in a car accident?
As with accidents that cause damage to property and/or vehicles, the individuals involved must exchange certain information. California Vehicle Code 20001 describes the laws regarding accidents that cause bodily harm to another driver or bystander. VC 20001 Section (a) explains that when a vehicle-related accident results in bodily harm, the driver at fault must ‘immediately stop’ at the scene of the accident and perform the actions described in Vehicle Code 20003 and 20004.
- California Vehicle Code 20003 describes the procedures that one must take when involved in a vehicle-related accident that causes bodily harm to another driver. Under VC 20003 the driver at fault must do the following:
- First and foremost, the driver at the scene of the accident is required by law to provide assistance to an injured driver. The driver at fault (if capable) can provide assistance by transporting or finding transportation to a hospital or medical center.
- In a car accident the individuals involved must provide their name, driver’s license (or any other form of identification), current address, the registration of the vehicle involved in the car accident, and if they are not the owners of the vehicle, the driver must provide the name and address of the vehicle owner.
- The driver at fault will be required to give the information above to the traffic or police officer present at the scene of the accident.
- California Vehicle Code 20004 explains that when a vehicle accident results in the death of another, the incident must be reported to local law enforcement agencies. Furthermore, if a law enforcement agent is not present at the scene and there is no one to provide the information required under VC 20003, then the driver must report the incident to the local authorities.
Consequences of a Hit and Run
Drivers who cause damage to property and/or cause bodily harm to another driver or bystander is required by law to immediately pull over, exchange information with the driver(s), and report the incident to local authorities. If possible, the driver should pull over to the side so as to prevent traffic jams. In addition, if the driver caused bodily harm to another driver, the driver at fault must provide ‘reasonable’ assistance to the injured parties.
If you are in an accident and you fail to follow the instructions mentioned above, you may be charged with a hit and run. Being charged with a hit and run can result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction each holding different punishments for individuals that fail to take responsibility for the vehicle-related accident. Under the law, there are different consequences for individuals who flee a car accident (even when it's not your fault) depending on the severity of the accident. As mentioned earlier, VC 20001 and VC 20002 describe the laws regarding accidents and reports and should be honored whenever there is a vehicle-related accident on the road.
Punishments Under VC 20001
California Vehicle Code 20001 relates to car related accident that causes bodily harm to another driver or bystander. Under VC 20001 individuals who flee the scene of an accident that caused bodily harm to another person can be charged with a felony. VC 20001 felonies have much greater repercussions than misdemeanors under VC 20002. Under VC 20001, the driver who flees the scene may face the following consequences:
- Up to a year in prison or jail, and fines that range between $1000 to $10,000
- In more severe cases involving permanent injuries or death, the driver at fault who has fled the scene may be charged with up to 4 years in prison and fines that range up to $10,000.
Car accidents that result from a driving under the influence can be charged with additional fines and time in prison.
Punishments under VC 20002
California Vehicle Code 20002 relates to car accidents that do not involve any bodily injury to another person but causes damage to private property including vehicles. Violation of any section in VC 20002 can result in a misdemeanor. The punishments go as follows:
- Up to six months in jail
- And/or up to $1,000
Hiring the Premier Long Beach Hit and Run Attorney Near You
When a vehicle accident occurs, it is important to report the issue to local law enforcement agencies. Leaving the scene of a car accident without proper reporting may lead to serious consequences in a courtroom. If you are charged with a hit-and-run DUI, it is crucial to speak with a DUI attorney. If you wish to consult your case with a local attorney, you may contact the Long Beach DUI Attorney at 562-206-2012.