WTOP Radio is reporting a growing concern over the number of D.C. hit-and-run fatalities this year. Twenty accidents have killed 16 — including 13 pedestrians, two motorcyclists and a bicyclist.
Hit-and-run defense in D.C. often goes hand-in-hand with fighting DUI charges. Those driving without insurance or without a license may also be more prone to leaving the scene of an accident. The most serious criminal penalties can occur when a motorist flees the scene of a crash that causes serious injury or death. In such cases, vehicular manslaughter charges may result.
The Washington Examiner recently reported on the case of a man sentenced to 20 years behind bars after being convicted of vehicular manslaughter in D.C. In that case, a wrong-way crash killed a mother and injured her four children. The 35-year-old defendant admitted to getting high on PCP the day before the crash. He was sentenced to 132 months for voluntary manslaughter and 54 months each for two counts of aggravated assault.
Each case is unique. Whether the man was still under the influence of consumption is certainly something we hope was thoroughly explored by competent defense counsel. Charges involving marijuana, which can remain in a person’s system for 30 days, may also call into question impairment at the time of the accident. Whether or not the defendant was responsible for the crash will also be called into question.
“People who are engaged in hit-and-runs are (leaving the scene) because there is something they are very frightened about staying,” says AAA’s Lon Anderson. “Whether they were driving drunk or whether they didn’t have the proper credentials to drive.”
Why defendants choose to leave is debatable. In some cases, they may not realize they hit anything, or may not have been aware they struck a person. What isn’t debatable is the unmitigated zeal with which authorities pile on the charges once an accused hit-and-run driver has been identified. An experienced District defense lawyer can often weed through what charges are a real threat to a defendant and what charges were thrown in as wishful thinking on the part of the prosecution.
Experienced counsel should be called in at the earliest stages of such cases. And a motorist accused of hit-and-run should never consent to search or speak to the authorities without an attorney present.
If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., vehicular manslaughter or hit-and-run charges, contact the Law Office of Daniel A. Gross, PLLC for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights or fill out our online contact form. Visa, Mastercard and Discover cards accepted. Call 202-596-5716.