Skip to main content
Criminal Defense

The Importance of Expert Witnesses in Hit & Run DUI Defense

By October 13, 2023May 19th, 2024No Comments
Attorney discussing legal matters with client | Expert Witnesses in Hit Run Defense | Wegman & Levin

Facing criminal charges of any kind can be an overwhelming and intimidating experience, especially for first-time offenders. Suddenly, your future becomes uncertain, and you may wonder how this situation will impact your daily life and future plans. Like most states, California prosecutes DUI (driving under the influence) crimes aggressively, as intoxicated driving can impair a person’s ability to respond safely behind the wheel. Additionally, any collision in which the at-fault driver flees the scene (also known as a hit and run) carries serious consequences. In some cases, these two offenses occur simultaneously— someone driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs collides with another vehicle, cyclist, or pedestrian and then flees the scene. DUI hit-and-run accidents carry significant penalties, including considerable jail time, costly fines, and other limitations to your freedom and future prospects. If law enforcement has arrested you for a hit-and-run incident and they allege that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeded the legal limit (0.08 percent) at the time of the event, contact an experienced and trusted Los Angeles County criminal defense lawyer right away to discuss your situation. Your DUI defense attorney will get to work developing a compelling legal defense strategy, which may include expert witnesses that can contradict or undermine the prosecution’s case. Let’s take a look at how California defines DUI hit-and-run offenses and how enlisting the guidance of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can increase your chances of obtaining a fair and favorable outcome.

How California Defines DUI Hit-and-Run Offenses

Essentially, an intoxicated driver who flees the scene of a car accident may be accused of committing two criminal offenses. In California, drivers have a legal responsibility to remain at the scene of an accident, so fleeing the scene can carry severe consequences. Additionally, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Here’s a brief overview of these distinct criminal offenses as described by California state law.

Hit-and-Run Incidents in California

The California Vehicle Code establishes the responsibilities that all drivers have while on the road. Vehicle Code Section 20001 states that “The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to a person, other than himself or herself, or in the death of a person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident.” The law requires any driver who causes a traffic accident resulting in property or vehicle damage to stop and exchange contact and insurance information with the other parties. Additionally, they must notify local law enforcement to report the accident. Failing to stop at the scene and report the accident may lead to misdemeanor hit-and-run charges. If the accident involves personal injury or death, fleeing the scene can lead to felony hit-and-run charges, punishable by steep fines, imprisonment, restitution to victims, and other penalties.

DUI Offenses in Los Angeles County

Under Section 23152 of the California Vehicle Code, “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.” If law enforcement pulls you over and test results indicate that your BAC exceeds the legal limit of 0.08 percent, you will likely face criminal charges. First-time offenders can expect to face misdemeanor charges, while those with multiple convictions or whose accident caused physical injury or death to another person will likely face felony charges. Depending on the specifics of your case and whether you have prior DUI convictions on your record, the penalties you could face range from costly fines, jail or prison time, license suspension or revocation, or mandatory participation in DUI education classes.

Combining DUI and Hit-and-Run Charges

A conviction for either a DUI offense or a hit-and-run case can lead to significant penalties. However, if you are facing combined charges, it’s natural to wonder whether you will be able to serve the terms of both sentences concurrently (i.e., at the same time). Judges in California enjoy considerable discretion in determining the specific terms of each individual case, so enlist the help of a skilled and experienced DUI hit-and-run defense attorney as soon as possible to start preparing your legal defense strategy.

How DUI Hit-and-Run Expert Witnesses Can Help Your Defense

There are several legal strategies your criminal defense lawyer can use to defend you against DUI hit-and-run charges, particularly if somebody was injured. Depending on the specifics of your case, your defense lawyer may determine that using testimony from expert witnesses will help to push back against the prosecution’s claims. For example, an accident reconstructionist can provide a valuable step-by-step account of the factors contributing to the collision, such as inclement weather conditions, hazards in the road, or a red light that the other driver did not obey. The testimony of this professional can call the prosecution’s version of the events into question and help to show that your actions were not to blame for the collision. Your attorney may also turn to a forensic specialist to share their professional assessment of the events leading up to the accident. Sometimes, the insights shared by these expert witnesses are what tip the court into acquitting you of the charges altogether.

Start Preparing Your Legal Defense Today

When it comes to defending yourself against criminal charges, taking swift action is always best. Contact a seasoned and reliable hit-and-run DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that your rights remain protected and respected at every step of the criminal justice process. Your attorney will work hard to identify the most strategic path forward to keep your future bright.

If you are facing criminal charges in Los Angeles County relating to a hit-and-run DUI incident, the skilled and experienced criminal defense attorneys at Wegman & Levin are here to help you fight for your freedom and future. Call (818) 980-4000 today to schedule your free consultation.

Michael M. Levin, Esq.

Michael M. Levin is an experienced attorney who has been in private practice as a criminal defense lawyer for over 25 years. He has conducted numerous jury trials in cases ranging from DUI to capital murder. Read More

site by LegalRev