Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious crime, especially if there are injuries. If Breath or Blood samples are taken to determine if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident and it is determined that you were manslaughter charges could be filed. Cases which involve fatal accidents when the driver is extremely intoxicated or has previously been convicted of driving under the influence can be charged as second degree murder. All the district attorney has to prove to get a conviction for second degree murder is that the driver had a reckless disregard for human life when they got into the car and drove. The driver who killed Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was convicted of second degree murder because his blood alcohol was three times over the legal limit.
Many people who are involved in accidents, whether they are under the influence or not, become frightened and leave the scene. It is never a good idea to leave the scene of an accident. There will almost always be witnesses who can identify your vehicle and you will end up facing serious criminal charges. An accident is just an accident until you leave the scene.
The California vehicle code requires that if you are a driver involved in an accident resulting in death or injury to any person other than yourself you must immediately stop at the scene and give your name, address, registration number and provide reasonable assistance to the injured person. If a death results from the accident and no officers are at the scene, you must report the accident immediately to the nearest officer.
If you are involved in an accident that only involves property damage you must immediately stop your vehicle at the nearest safe location and locate and notify the owner of the property. You must provide your name and address to the owner of the property and you must provide your driver’s license and registration if requested. If you cannot locate the owner, you must leave a note in a conspicuous place on the vehicle or property giving your name and address and a statement of the circumstances. You must also notify the local police department of the collision.
The punishment for leaving the scene of an accident that involves injury to another person can be one year in county jail or 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in state prison plus a fine of not less than $1000.
The punishment for leaving the scene of an accident that involves death or permanent, serious injury is 2, 3 or 4 years in sate prison and a fine of not less than $1000 or more than $10,000.
The California Vehicle Code also requires that the DMV immediately revoke the driving privilege of any person convicted of leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death.
If you are facing charges for hit and run or vehicular manslaughter you should always have legal aid on your side. Diane C. Bass has extensive experience as an Orange County hit and run lawyer and has helped many of her clients working out deals to keep them from serving any jail time.