If you were driving under the influence, get into a crash, and leave, you could be facing several charges. Here's what they are and what you can do about them.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident
With any accident, you must remain on the scene for the police to come and take a report. Leaving the scene of an accident is a separate criminal offense. It may become a felony if someone was injured. However, there are very limited exceptions to where you wouldn't be punished for leaving the scene of the accident. These would include if you're in an unsafe location and need to move to a safe location nearby. You may also need to leave to receive immediate medical attention. However, you would still be responsible for notifying the police immediately and making yourself available to complete the police report.
Driving Under the Influence
One of the main reasons some drivers try to leave the scene of a DUI crash is that they think they can escape the DUI charge. This generally doesn't work. You can still be charged with driving under the influence even if you leave the scene of the accident. However, there are multiple ways the police can still prove the charge. First, if they catch up to you quickly, they can still do blood and breath tests to measure your level of intoxication. Second, the police can get witness statements from people who saw you driving or walking in a manner consistent with being intoxicated. Finally, police can use other evidence such as bar tabs that show you had just been drinking.
Another important thing to understand about leaving the scene of a DUI crash is that the judge may impose a harsher sentence. Every crime has a range of possible sentences, so judges have some discretion. Judges see leaving the scene as not accepting responsibility and possibly putting the other person at risk if they don't have anyone else calling 911 to get them help, so they may give you a harder sentence than if you had stayed at the scene.
How Can You Defend a Leaving the Scene of a DUI Charge?
Other than the fact that you weren't driving, you have the right to have the prosecution prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. If they can't prove every element of the crime or you find a technical error, you may be able to get your charges dismissed.
To learn more about leaving the scene and DUI charges, contact a criminal defense attorney.