Hit-and-run vs. DUI

Here’s a question that’s bound to be close to the line. It’s something I’ve been curious about nonetheless. OF COURSE, this is highly hypothetical and I would never do anything like this. In fact, I just started wondering after reading a related thread a few days ago.

Setting aside moral or ethical considerations, which has a stiffer penalty: DUI or Hit and Run. The scenario I’m imagining is: I’ve been drinking quite heavily and I decide to drive home (I would never do this). Because I’m so inebriated, I somehow lose control of my vehicle and crash into a parked car. Now I’m forced with a decision. Do I stay and report the crash to the police, thereby pretty much guaranteeing myself a DUI charge when they show up? Or, do I jump in my car and drive away, and wait for them to catch me later on (maybe the next day or something) and get charged with Hit and Run or leaving the scene or something? Which is a better choice in terms of lighter punishment. Keep in mind that I’m assuming that I will be caught either way, but one is where I was drunk and the other where I fled.

Please excuse this terrible question.

How about leave a business card under the windshield wiper and leave the scene?

I was listening to a local radio station discussing a similar situation, and you could actually be charged with a felony for leaving the scene of an accident, A DUI would be a misdemeanor for a first offense. Either way you could do jail time depending on the damage done and the prosecuting attorney.

Hit and run, at least in California. It’s almost always a felony in other states, and in California it carries a minimum penalty of a $1000 fine, which is the maximum penalty for a first offense DUI; there may also be jail time in either case.

In Texas, hit and run statutes are only implicated where there has been personal injury or death. The best thing to do would be to park your car, leave a note under the other car’s windshield, and go call a cab. That way you won’t get prosecuted for any crime at all.

A single driver needs to determine whether or not s/he is injured and may not be near a phone to report the accident. That may require leaving the scene to visit a hospital…

Here is a case that has been through the courts in Helena…


Please do not interpret this as legal advice.

In Canada, (at least many) defense lawyers recommend that you leave the scene rather than assist if your are certain your blood alcohol level is over the legal limit. Ideally you assist to save life, leave to “go have a drink” then return to fess up. Proving you were intoxicated at the time of the accident becomes difficult and your return shows that you may have panicked rather than left to “avoid criminal liability”, which is a required element in most H&R charges.

In many US jurisdictions prosecuters are pushing for culpable homicide charges against drunk drivers so by comaparison a H&R vehicular homicide is less severe.

Personally I favor corporal punishment in such cases.

Years ago on Usenet, someone was outraged: His sister had gotten hit-skipped, she died. Sure they got the driver the next day, but they couldn’t prove DUI. Never did hear how that turned out, but (hypothetically of course), I’ve wondered the best course of action the driver could have taken. Legally, not morally.

Here in Madison, there has been a case similar to the OP, except it involved a fatality. A guy hit a jogger and killed her, then left the scene. The cops caught him in a few days, and had every indication he had been drinking, but obviously he had sobered up by then so there was nothing they could do. Even uglier, he power washed his truck the day after the accident, and tried to get a friend to help him fix the damage. He was then busted for being intoxicated while being out on bail before this case went to trial, even though a condition was that he not drink. All in all, soudns like a real pleasant human being.
He was charged with failing to render aid and homicide by negligent use of a motor vehicle. All together he faced 12 years as opposed to about 60 if he was convicted of DUI-homicide. He ended up with 7½.
A local legislator is now looking to increase the leaving the scene penalties to make them equivalent to DUI.

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