DC Hit and Run Lawyer
Otherwise known as “hit-and-run,” Leaving After Colliding may be charged in Washington, D.C. when a driver who has been in an auto accident which causes property damage, injury to a domestic animal, or personal injury, leaves the scene without waiting for police to arrive. DC hit and run laws are some of the strictest in the country. In fact, in most cases, DC criminal law requires individuals involved in an accident to not just exchange insurance information but also wait for the police to arrive and take a report.
The law was changed back in 2012 when the City Council expanded its DUI laws. Its likely the purpose for requiring folks to wait for the police is to make sure drunk drivers do not get into an accident and then escape the scene without police scrutiny. In addition, DC hit and run laws do not only apply to the driver who hits the other vehicle. In other words, someone, through no fault of your own, could collide their vehicle into yours. In that scenario, you are bound by the same rules to report the accident, wait for law enforcement and exchange information.
It is not a defense to a DC hit and run to claim it was the other driver’s fault that the accident occurred. This provision is another example of how DC hit and run laws are more strict than other jurisdictions. On the other hand, it is a defense to a hit and run if you leave the scene because the other driver threatens you or makes you reasonably fear for your safety.
In cases of property damage only, the law requires the driver to stay on the scene until police arrive, and exchange information with the other driver or drivers. If the owner of the vehicle or domestic animal is not present, the driver must provide the required insurance and identifying information to law enforcement or the 911 operator. Failure to do so may result in a jail sentence of up to 30 days, and/or a $250.00 fine.
When someone suffers a physical injury as a result of the accident, the driver must ensure that any necessary medical treatment is provided. He or she must also wait for law enforcement and provide insurance and identifying information. The penalty for failure to do this is up to 180 days in jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine. Accordingly, leaving after colliding – personal injury is a more serious hit and run crime than leaving after colliding – property damage.
If convicted of either offense, there are DC DMV consequences to consider. If you are convicted for leaving after colliding – personal injury, the DMV will assess 12 points against your license. Accordingly, your license will be revoked or suspended. Driving with a suspended license itself is another traffic offense you could get arrested for if you continue to drive after your license is suspended. For leaving after colliding – property damage, the DMV will asses 8 points against your license if convicted. It takes 11 points to get suspended and 12 points to get revoked, which means if convicted for a hit and run with just property damage you could be very close to losing your license.
Like most other traffic offenses, the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia prosecutes leaving after colliding or hit and run offenses. In many cases, individuals arrested for leaving after colliding are eligible to be released from the police station unless they are on probation or have another pending case in DC Superior Court. However, in cases where the arrest for leaving after colliding stems from a judge-signed arrest warrant, the person arrested must see a judge before getting released. That means its likely the person will have to spend the night in jail as opposed to simply getting released from the police station.
Most situations where the police obtain a warrant for a DC hit and run case involve someone getting into an accident, leaving the scene, and then subsequently getting a letter from the DC Rit and Run Investigations Unit. In those cases, the other driver or a witness usually gets the license plate number and reports it to the police. Once the police have the license plate, it is easy for them to lookup who the owner of the vehicle is. However, they usually do not enough evidence as to who the identity of the driver is.
Because drivers suspected of Leaving After Colliding are often tracked down some time after the actual accident, police often contact the alleged driver by mail, and request that the suspect voluntarily visit the police department for questioning. In those cases, if the driver does not consult an attorney and instead goes to the station and admits they were driving, the police often will get an arrest warrant after that.
Because any statements made by you will be used against you in court, no suspect should ever comply with this request before contacting a D.C. traffic lawyer with experience in defending leaving after colliding charges. Jay P. Mykytiuk is a trial attorney with significant experience defending hit and run cases both in court and in the investigation stage. If you or someone you know receives a letter from the MPD Hit and Run Investigations Unit or is arrested for leaving after colliding (hit and run), then contact Jay P. Mykytiuk today for a full case evaluation.