The Waiting Game: Leaving After Colliding In DC
In the constant hustle and bustle of traffic within the District of Columbia, fender benders are commonplace. Accidents happen because people are prone to basic human error. Nevertheless, these accidents can be stressful and often scary for some people. As a result, people may panic and leave the scene of an accident before exchanging information or waiting on a police officer to arrive. Those people are now not only facing an insurance claim but also a criminal conviction for Leaving After Colliding (LAC).
LAC arrests frequently happen in conjunction with DUI or DWI arrests. For example, one night you are driving home after having a couple of drinks with your friends and you hit a pothole which causes you to accidently sideswipe a parked car. After inspecting the parked car for damage and seeing that there is only a minor scratch, you continue on your way home. Unbeknownst to you, a cop sitting on a nearby corner witnesses what happened and pulls you over. Now, you are looking at a DUI or DWI charge and an LAC charge because you left the scene without waiting for a police officer to show up. As reported by the Washington Post, an unfortunate example of this arose on New Year’s Eve of this year when a drunk driver hit multiple individuals and continued driving until a pole forced his vehicle to stop. Not only was the individual charged with DUI but he was also charged with LAC.
Another common scenario involves someone who unknowingly backs into a parked car and continues driving. When this happens, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) will send the suspected driver a letter demanding that they have to go to the police station to discuss what happened. If you receive a letter similar to the one explained, DO NOT GO to the police station and DO NOT CALL the police. Immediately, call a Washington, D.C. LAC colliding lawyer.
To be convicted for LAC (also termed a hit and run), the government must prove that you left the scene of accident without leaving identifiable information and waiting for the police to show up. LAC can involve both property and people. Essentially, if your car collides with real or personal property, even a domestic animal, DC law requires that you wait for the police to arrive before you leave. If you leave the accident, you could face up to 180 days to 1 year in jail and possibly pay up to $2,500 in fines.
You have a constitutional right to not incriminate yourself and you should protect yourself and your family by exercising that right. MPD sends these letters because they do not have enough evidence to bring charges against you. MPD’s hope is that you will willing come to their station and provide and answer their seemingly innocent questions so they can then arrest you for LAC. And know this, if the officer believes you have provided him or her with the necessary probable cause, they will arrest you. The MPD’s entire goal of sending out this letter is scare you into coming to their station and confessing. Once you give the police more details, no matter how small, they might have enough evidence to arrest you. Do not give up your constitutional right! Do not incriminate yourself!
In the unfortunate event that you are facing an LAC conviction within the District, it is imperative that you hire an experienced DC LAC lawyer. At Scrofano Law PC, we have successfully defended our clients against DC LAC charges as well as have prevented charges from being brought in the first place.
If you or someone you know is arrested for a DC LAC, CALL attorney Christopher Mutimer for more information on LAC and to schedule full consultation.