A charge of DUI in Virginia is serious in and of itself. It can lead to serious penalties including high fines, prison time, and the loss of your right to drive. The situation can become much more serious when a person leaves the scene of the accident as the result of a DUI. Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime, and when coupled with DUI charges those potential penalties become much more serious.
These penalties can greatly affect your life and your freedom, but with the help of experienced Virginia DUI attorney Bryan J. Jones, you can fight the charges against you and protect your constitutional rights.
Hit and Run Laws in Virginia
Virginia's hit and run laws are found in two code sections, and they differ based upon whether the vehicle you hit was occupied or not.
Va. Code § 46.2-894
Va. Code § 46.2-894 deals with situations where the accident results in death, injury, or damages to an occupied vehicle or attended property. When this happens, the driver is expected to:
- immediately stop as close to the scene of the accident as possible without obstructing traffic; and
- report his or her:
- driver's license number; and
- vehicle registration number to the State Police or local law enforcement.
The driver is also required to render reasonable assistance to any injured person, including taking that person to obtain medical treatment if needed.
Violation of this section is a Class 5 felony if it results in injury or death to another person, or if more than $1,000 in damage to property is done. The offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor if the accidents result in damage of $1,000 or less to the property.
Va. Code § 46.2-896
Va. Code § 46.2-896 handles situations in which the vehicle you hit was not occupied, or the property is left unattended. In this case, the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident must:
- make a reasonable effort to find the owner or custodian of the property, and
- report to the owner or custodian of the property information required under § 46.2-894.
If the owner of the property cannot be found, the driver is required to leave a note or some other form of sufficient information, including the driver's identification and contact information in a conspicuous place at the scene of the accident and must report it within 24 hours to the State Police or local law enforcement.
Hit and Run with DUI
While a DUI charge can be serious, it can become much more serious if a person leaves the scene of an accident. Not only does the person face the possibility of a misdemeanor or felony charge for the DUI, but now also faces the potential of a felony or misdemeanor charge for hit and run as well.
Also, judges and prosecutors are much less likely to be forgiving to a person who causes an accident and makes a run for it. However, with proper legal representation you can still present a strong defense.