It is well known that DUI is a serious crime in Virginia. You can face a lengthy suspension of your license, jail time, and steep fines. Driving under the influence is a substantial mistake that can have serious repercussions on your future. In fact, many people are so scared by the implications of being convicted of DUI, they make an even bigger mistake when they have a DUI accident: They flee the scene of the accident, thinking they can prevent being charged with a DUI if they can go home and sleep it off. What they may not know, however, is that a hit and run may prove to be even more serious in the long term.
DUI in Virginia
DUI in Virginia is a serious crime. A first offense is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor and could land you in jail for up to a year. A third offense is considered a Class 6 felony and carries a minimum jail sentence of 90 days and could carry a maximum of five years in prison. Moreover, if you have a DUI accident, you can be charged with a felony if someone is injured or killed. Given the severity of the punishment, it is understandable why some people get the wrong idea and flee the scene of an accident.
Hit and Run
Virginia law requires a driver to stop when they are involved in an accident that damages property or causes an injury or death. The driver is required to exchange information with the other driver. Further, the driver is required to render reasonable aid. This includes, if possible, either taking the injured party to medical attention or, failing that, summoning medical attention. If the accident results in an injury or property damage over $1000, you can be found guilty of a Class 5 felony.
Let’s put this in a hypothetical situation. You’ve been out and had a beer or two too many. On your way home to, say, Fairfax City, you make a mistake in the navigation of Fairfax Circle and you are involved in an accident. It is a pretty violent wreck and your airbags deployed as did those of the person you hit. You can see through the windshield that the other driver is covered in blood. You have a sinking suspicion you could be charged with your first DUI. You make a really bad decision and leave the scene. A mile up Route 50, you get pulled over.
If you had stayed at the scene, you would most likely be charged with DUI. It might be a misdemeanor or, if the injuries were severe, a Class 6 felony. Chances are, you probably would not spend more than a night or two in jail. Now, however, you are facing the exact same charge for the DUI and you are facing an additional Class 5 felony charge for the hit and run. In the absolute worst-case scenario, you went from facing a maximum of five years in prison to now facing a maximum of 15 years in prison.
People make mistakes. It is inevitable. DUI is clearly a pretty big mistake but one that can be compounded many times over by leaving the scene of the accident. 15 years in prison is a very severe punishment for a lapse in judgment, but it is the law. If you are in Northern Virginia and have been charged with DUI, hit and run, or both, you are in serious legal jeopardy. You need the best representation possible to help defend your rights. Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyer Jad Sarsour has helped hundreds of clients in DUI and hit and run cases. He has the experience and the expertise to help you make the best of a bad situation. Give him a call today at (571) 316-2639 to set up your initial consultation. Remember, your liberty is at stake.
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The Fairfax Criminal Defense Law firm of Jad Sarsour, represents clients throughout Northern Virginia and regularly appears in all courts, including: Fairfax County | Fairfax City | Prince William County | Arlington County | Alexandria City | Loudoun County | Federal Court (Eastern District/VA)