I Received a Letter from the Washington, DC Hit and Run Coordinator; now What?
As an attorney who regularly defends people being investigated for Hit and Run in Washington, DC, I often get calls from people have been contacted by an MPD Hit and Run Coordinator. I generally hear one of two different stories.
The first involves someone who was not driving their car on the date and time of the incident alleged to by the hit and run coordinator. Perhaps you were out of town when the collision occurred. Perhaps you had lent the car to someone else. Maybe a witness just gave a partial license plate number that was similar to yours but not actually your plate number. When you get called by the police officer, it may be tempting to speak with them on the phone or come in for an interview. After all, you did nothing wrong so why not talk to the police, you may be thinking. Regardless of how logical this seems, I strongly advise you to speak with a Washington, DC hit and run lawyer before speaking with any officer. The officer is only interested in getting you to talk your way into incriminating yourself. Even if your answers seem harmless, they may result in you being charged with a crime. The actual name of a “hit and run” charge in the District of Columbia is Leaving after Colliding (LAC). If the collision resulted in only property damage (the other person’s car), then it will charged as LAC-PD (Property Damage). If the collision resulted in personal injury, then it will be charged as LAC-PI (Personal Injury). These are misdemeanor criminal charges punishable but up to six months in jail and a fine. Please note that if you are contacted by the Hit and Run Coordinator or another DC MPD officer, it is best not to deny anything either. That may be just as bad as admitting guilt or confessing. Simply tell the officer that you are not going to answer questions or make any statements without an attorney present. I don’t care if you have to say this five times.
The second story I often hear from people who call were involved in a collision but left the scene because they were scared for their safety or unaware that any property was damaged, or a person was hurt. This may be where two cars are in a minor collision. You get out to the car and check that the other driver and their vehicle is okay. You don’t see any damage, so you understandably drive away. Later you are contacted by a Hit and Run Coordinator asking you about the accident. Again, you should call a lawyer who represents people charged with criminal traffic violations in Washington, DC. Even if you are planning on giving a reasonable explanation to what happened, it is best to call an attorney first. This officer is only calling to get you to incriminate yourself.
There are a variety of things an experienced DC criminal defense lawyer can do to help you if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation. You may be able to avoid being charged with any crime in Washington, DC. If you are charged, you may be able to seriously reduce the chances you are convicted. However, I want to be clear that everyone’s situation is different and a lot will depend on the facts in your specific case.
If you are being investigated for a Hit and Run or have been charged with LAC in Washington, DC, please feel free to contact my office for a free no-obligation consultation.