Drivers who are charged with driving under the influence of alcohol face serious criminal charges. Most states impose significant fines and jail time on drunk drivers who injure other people or cause property damage in accidents. The fines and jail time increase after a driver’s first offense. Additionally, drivers may face a suspended driver’s license on their first offense and a revoked driver’s license on subsequent offenses that leaves them without the legal right to operate a motor vehicle. All of these sentences may be augmented if the driver is accused of a drunk driver hit and run because most states also impose significant penalties for leaving the scene of an accident.
These serious consequences make it important for those who have been accused of a drunk driver hit and run to defend themselves in a court of law.
Common Drunk Driver Hit and Run Defenses
Some common defenses to drunk driver hit and run accidents include:
· You were not driving the vehicle that caused the accident: police officers often identify the car involved in a hit and run accident, but not the actual driver. They may accuse a passenger or the person to whom the car is registered of driving the car involved in the accident. While a passenger or the owner the car may have some liability for the accident, it is often not as severe as a drunk driver hit and run charge;
· You did not know that you caused an accident: while this may not be a complete defense against all of the charges against you, you may be able to defend yourself against the hit and run part of the accident, or leaving the scene of an accident;
· You were not drunk: similar to the defense described above, a defense that you were not drunk will not be a complete defense against a drunk driver hit and run charge. You still need to defend against the hit and run charge. However, if police do not have physical evidence that your blood alcohol content was above the legal limit and you were not drunk at the time of the accident then you might have a defense against the drunk driver charge; and
· The police violated the law gathering evidence: if the police did not follow all of the proper procedures and afford you all of your rights during the investigation and arrest then some of the evidence gathered by the police may be inadmissible at trial and you may be able to negotiate a favorable settlement.
Your Drunk Driver Hit and Run Defense is Unique
While the defenses described above are common defenses to a drunk driving hit and run accident, they are not appropriate for every alleged hit and run. Each drunk driver hit and run defense is based on the unique facts of the case presented. The facts may give rise to a defense not listed above or one or more of the defenses described above.
For these reasons, it is important to carefully document all of the facts about your case and to share them with your defense lawyer. Remember, the potential penalties for a drunk driver hit and run accident can include a felony conviction with significant fines, jail time and a revoked driver’s license. For these reasons, it is important to aggressively defend yourself against drunk driver hit and run charges.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.