Every year in America, there are millions of automobile accidents that occur in the streets of every city across the country. Many of these are minor fender benders, and even those that aren’t are usually easily handled outside of the court system. Unfortunately, drinking and driving increase the likelihood of being involved in a car accident, and when an intoxicated driver causes a collision, there’s no doubt that they’re scared. This leads some to leave the scene of the accident that they were involved in, but it’s important to know that this action could result in much harsher consequences than those that would’ve been faced by simply staying at the scene.
Statistics Related to DUI Hit-and-Run
Alcohol-related accidents are a huge problem in American society. It turns out that about one-third of all motor vehicle-related deaths are directly attributable to alcohol use. It’s hard to say, however, exactly how many occurrences of hit-and-run are alcohol-related. This is because not all hit-and-run cases are solved, and if police are unable to find a suspect, they’re even less likely to know whether the offender was drunk or not.
It’s important to note, however, that around 11 percent of all crashes reported to the police involve a hit-and-run. Even more disheartening is the fact that these accidents result in around 1,500 deaths every year. The mindset of those who run is often focused on staying out of trouble. This could include those who have never been in trouble before or those who face serious consequences due to prior records. Regardless of the situation, leaving the scene is guaranteed to only make things worse.
Consequences of Leaving
There is an abundance of consequences related to hit-and-run accidents. These consequences can vary considerably depending on the accident itself. A Pennsylvanian woman, for instance, was just recently charged with eight counts of reckless endangerment, failing to stop and render aid, five counts of DUI aggravated assault with a vehicle, and many other charges. This was in relation to her sideswiping five men on a highway and fleeing. Even though none of the men were killed, the hit-and-run combined with the DUI charge has exacerbated her charges.
Drunk driving is usually only punished as a misdemeanor. This is true even in many cases where a minor accident occurs. In several areas of the country, however, hit-and-runs in and of themselves are considered felonies. This means that by leaving the scene of an accident, a person can change a misdemeanor into a felony which is punishable by over a year in prison. The consequences of hit-and-run become even worse, of course, if someone is seriously injured or killed during the accident.
Staying out of Jail
As can be seen, by the varying possible consequences of leaving the scene of an accident, there are numerous punishments that may be handed down by the court. This is also true for those who await the arrival of police officers, but these consequences will be much less severe. In fact, there are some instances where a person may receive no jail time whatsoever and just have a mark on their record with probation and a few financial penalties. This possibility, however, flies out of the window when a person is found guilty of a hit-and-run. The most important thing a person can do to stay out of jail after being involved in an alcohol-related accident is to wait for the police and then hire an attorney.
Even without a death involved, some people may believe that they have nothing to lose by leaving if an accident is severe enough, but this simply isn’t true. As related by Steven Kellis a Philadelphia DUI lawyer, “Laws require judges to sentence those convicted of DUI Manslaughter to harsh sentences.” A lawyer can potentially provide several defenses to prevent a conviction, even of the most detrimental of charges (ie. vehicular manslaughter). These defenses could include showing that the other driver was at fault for the accident or that improper testing methods were used to obtain a blood alcohol content reading. When a person leaves the scene of an accident, the jury automatically thinks worse of them. The important thing to remember is that an attorney’s job becomes much more difficult if their client flees.
Causing an accident when under the influence of alcohol will likely bring some negative consequences, but for those who choose to flee the scene of the accident, their life can be permanently, irreparably changed. The simple truth is that the consequences of a hit-and-run, even for those who aren’t intoxicated, are going to be far worse than the initial repercussions the person would’ve faced. Since attorneys can fight alcohol-related charges much easier than those related to fleeing the scene of an accident, waiting for law enforcement to arrive will probably be the smartest thing an intoxicated driver has done all day.