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DUI Penalties: What Happens in a DUI that is also a Hit & Run?

If you are involved in any accident where you strike another vehicle, person, or private property, you are required by law to immediately stop and remain at the scene. You must provide your name and address as well as your vehicle’s registration number, or the name and address of the vehicle’s owner if you were not the one driving or the vehicle does not belong to you. If you are unable to contact the driver of the other vehicle or the owner of the car or property, you must immediately notify the police and wait for them to arrive at the scene so you can provide them with this information. If there is no other person around the property or vehicle that you hit, you must leave your information securely attached to a highly visible portion of the other vehicle or property. Even if you hit a parked car and think that there was no damage, you are still required under Ohio law to exchange your information or leave a note with your information if the vehicle is unattended.

What is “Fleeing the Scene” or “Hit Skip” in Ohio?

“Fleeing the Scene” or “Hit Skip” in Ohio is a serious charge related to an individual who is involved in an accident and leaves the area without stopping, contacting law enforcement and if necessary, medical assistance. Leaving the scene of an accident is illegal even within your system but the consequences you may face will be higher if you commit a hit and run while driving under the influence of alcohol. If you leave the scene of an accident, you can face larger fines or even jail time, depending on the severity of the accident and whether human life or any property was involved in the accident. Your driver’s license will be suspended for at least six months, and you may have to pay steep fines as well as any restitution that might be required to pay for any damage that you caused. Your car insurance rates will also go up significantly or you may even be dropped from your insurance carrier altogether in some cases.

What if I’m Charged with a DUI and a Hit & Run in Ohio?

A hit and run accident in Ohio is a separate crime from your DUI offense, and you will be charged with a misdemeanor of the first degree. If your accident resulted in serious physical injury to any other person, your failure to stop will result in you being charged with a fifth-degree felony offense, which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. If the accident caused the death of another person, you will be charged with a third-degree felony that is punishable by up to three years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor charge of causing a hit and run crash that only caused vehicle or property damage, you will face penalties including spending up to 180 days in jail; paying a $1,000 fine; paying court costs; serving probation and/or doing community service instead of, or in conjunction with, serving jail time; paying restitution to the owner of the damaged vehicle; having 6 points put onto your driver’s license; and having your personal driver’s license and any CDLS that you may hold suspended for at least six months and up to three years.

If you are found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit of .08, or if you are found to be under the influence of a controlled substance when you hit the other vehicle or person and you caused bodily harm or death to the other person, you will be facing one or more counts of vehicular assault or homicide, which could be first, second, or third degree felonies depending on the severity of the case.

Contact An Experienced DUI Attorney

If you are in this situation in Ohio and you have fled the scene of an accident, the authorities are looking for you and will identify and arrest you. It is extremely important that you immediately hire a lawyer experienced in dealing with hit and run cases. An experienced attorney may be able to use certain defenses against your hit and run charges. The assistance of an experienced DUI defense lawyer can make all of the difference in keeping your name and record clear and your driving privileges intact. In order to convict you for the hit and run, the prosecutor must be able to prove that you were the person driving the vehicle as well as that you did not exchange the required information, speak with police in order to convey your information, or leave a note in the event that the other vehicle was not occupied at the time that you hit it.

As a criminal case, the prosecution must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew or should have known that you crashed into another vehicle, person, or property. Here, your lawyer may be able to successfully defend against the charge because physical evidence is often lacking in many hit and run cases, and the eyewitness accounts are often unreliable and potentially inaccurate. Three of the most common defenses to hit and run charges are that (1) you did not know about the accident, for example, if you inadvertently cut off another driver and did not realize that they had an accident as a result; (2) you did not leave the scene willfully such as if it was not safe to stay at the scene of the accident, although this defense is strongest if you still called the police once you were safely away from the scene; or (3) you were the only one injured, which means that you cannot be convicted of felony hit and run because your actions did not cause injury to anyone else but yourself. Other common defenses include if you were cited and charged with a “Hit Skip” before the 24-hour reporting period was over or if you were actually just in a one-car accident on a highway or public road.