Leaving the Scene of a DUI Accident
If you have been charged with drinking and driving in South Carolina, you should know that the penalties you are facing can be extremely harsh. Even misdemeanor DUI crimes come with significant consequences, including license suspension and fines. The repercussions of causing an accident can be much worse – especially if you try to leave the scene.
Whenever an accident occurs, you are required to alert law enforcement. That includes incidents in which you strike another vehicle, a pedestrian or someone’s property. When the property owner is not in the area, South Carolina law mandates that you make a reasonable attempt to let him or her know about the accident. Failing to alert either law enforcement or the property owner could result in a misdemeanor charge on its own, with carries with it the following:
- Fines of up to $5,000
- A minimum of 30 days in prison
- Suspension of driving privileges
In the event that you have been drinking, the consequences could be even more severe. If the accident caused someone else great bodily harm, you will likely be charged with a felony in addition to hit-and-run, reckless driving and DUI.
Why It Happens
People who have been drinking can make unwise decisions, such as getting behind the wheel of the car. That same line of thinking may lead drivers to leave the scene of an accident. Part of that stems from a fear of what may happen if you are arrested. Even in situations in which you are not responsible for what occurred, you may flee instinctively to avoid the stress.
Possible Legal Defenses
There are several tactics an attorney can use to defend someone who has been charged with a DUI hit-and-run. For example, in many cases, law enforcement can only identify the vehicle that was involved in the accident, not the driver. Therefore, if you were not driving, you should not face such serious charges. It is important to note that if you owned the vehicle, it is possible that you may still have some degree of liability.
Another common defense is making the argument that you were not aware that you caused an accident. While it can be difficult to prove, successfully making this point could lead to a dropped hit-and-run charge.
Lastly, your case could be dismissed or the charges reduced in the event that law enforcement did not gather all the evidence according to procedure. Perhaps they did not administer a sobriety test correctly or failed to read you your Miranda rights.
No matter the details of your case, any DUI hit-and-run charge is a very serious matter.