Picture this scenario: You’ve been out for a night with friends, and perhaps you’ve had a bit too much to drink. In an unfortunate turn of events, you find yourself involved in a car accident. Panic sets in, and the temptation to leave the scene to avoid a DWI charges looms large.
At the Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker, our Raleigh DWI attorneys understand the complexities of such situations and are here to provide you with the crucial information and legal guidance you need when facing charges for leaving the scene of an accident to avoid a DWI.
Understanding Leaving the Scene of an Accident (LSA)
Leaving the Scene of an Accident (LSA), often referred to as a “hit and run” incident, is a serious offense that can lead to a felony conviction in North Carolina. This offense occurs when a driver involved in a car accident fails to stop and fulfill their legal obligations by leaving the accident scene. In essence, leaving the scene of an accident means departing from the accident site without taking the necessary steps mandated by law, ultimately leading to criminal charges.
These steps drivers are mandated to take when an accident occurs include:
- Stopping at the Scene: The law requires drivers involved in an accident to immediately stop their vehicle at the scene or as close as possible to it. Failure to stop is a violation of the law.
- Providing Information: Drivers must provide their name, address, vehicle registration number, and driver’s license information to the other party involved in the accident, if requested. This information allows for the exchange of necessary details for car insurance claims and legal procedures.
- Rendering Aid: If anyone is injured or killed in the accident, drivers are obligated to provide reasonable assistance, such as calling 911, seeking medical attention, and ensuring police arrive on the scene.
- Reporting the Accident: In some cases, drivers must report the accident to law enforcement, especially if it involves significant property damage, injury, or death.
Legal Consequences of Leaving the Scene of an Accident in NC
In North Carolina, the legal consequences for hit-and-run cases can be severe and result in a criminal case that extends beyond the penalties faced for DWI convictions. Let’s explore some of the consequences of an intoxicated driver leaving the scene of an accident to avoid a DWI.
Leaving the scene of an accident to avoid a DWI is typically classified as a misdemeanor, but it can escalate to a felony charge, especially if the accident results in serious injury or death. Felony hit-and-run criminal charges can carry more severe penalties.
Penalties and Fines
Convictions for leaving the scene of an accident to avoid a DWI can result in fines ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the circumstances and any aggravating factors such as a drunk driving criminal history or other details related to the crime.
Driver’s License Suspension
Hit-and-run accident convictions often lead to a suspended license, which can significantly impact one’s ability to drive legally.
Probation and Parole
Courts may impose probation or parole as part of the sentence for leaving the scene of an accident to avoid a DWI, which involves meeting specific conditions, such as community service or alcohol and drug counseling.
A conviction for leaving the scene of an accident can result in a permanent criminal record, which can affect future employment opportunities, housing, and more.
Increased Insurance Premiums
Insurance companies may raise premiums or even drop coverage for individuals convicted of LSA, making it more challenging and costly to obtain car insurance in the future.
It’s crucial to recognize that the legal consequences of leaving the scene of an accident to avoid a DWI can be far-reaching and have a lasting impact on your life. If you find yourself facing LSA charges in North Carolina, seeking legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential to navigate the legal system effectively and protect your rights.
Alternatives to Leaving the Scene of an Accident to Avoid a DWI in NC
When faced with the situation of being impaired and involved in an accident, it’s essential to explore responsible alternatives to leaving the scene of an accident to avoid a DWI.
Two effective options to avoid such circumstances are:
- Designated Drivers: Planning ahead by having a designated driver who abstains from alcohol can prevent you from driving under the influence in the first place. This simple strategy can save lives and help avoid legal troubles altogether.
- Ride-Sharing Services: In today’s digital age, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft provide convenient and accessible options for getting home safely without having to drive impaired. Keep these apps handy on your smartphone for a reliable and responsible solution.
Contacting Law Enforcement for Assistance After an Accident
If you find yourself in an accident while impaired, it’s crucial to prioritize safety and responsible actions. Instead of leaving the scene to avoid a DWI, consider taking the following steps:
- Stay at the Scene: Regardless of your impairment, always stay at the scene of the accident. Leaving can lead to serious criminal charges, and potential felony charges, and may worsen the situation.
- Check for Injuries: First and foremost, check if anyone involved in the accident requires medical attention. If so, call 911 immediately to request assistance.
- Exchange Information: Exchange required information with the other party involved, as mandated by federal and state law.
- Report the Accident: Depending on the extent of property damage or injuries, you may need to report the accident to law enforcement. Follow the proper procedures and cooperate fully with the responding officers.
Understanding and Asserting Legal Rights
Understanding and asserting your legal rights at an accident scene is fundamental to safeguarding your liberties and ensuring fairness within the legal system. If you are arrested for DUI charges, be sure to remain calm and remember your constitutional rights:
- Right to Remain Silent: You have the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. You can politely decline to answer questions beyond identifying yourself and providing necessary documents.
- Right to an Attorney: If you are arrested or placed in custody, you have the right to an attorney. It’s generally advisable to consult with an attorney before answering any further questions.
- Consult Legal Counsel: If you are facing DWI charges, seeking legal counsel as soon as possible is highly recommended. An experienced attorney in Raleigh can help protect your rights, guide you through the legal process, and explore potential defense strategies.
Don’t Face DWI Charges Alone! Contact Our Raleigh DWI Attorneys Today
When it comes to potential penalties for DWI charges whatever hardships are ahead it’s important to resist leaving the scene of an accident to avoid a DWI charge. Whether you are being charged with leaving the scene of an accident or driving while impaired, criminal defense is imperative. Our dedicated team of Raleigh hit-and-run attorneys is here to stand by your side, protect your rights, and fight for the best possible outcome for your case.
By reaching out to us today, you take the first step toward securing your future and minimizing the impact of these criminal charges. Get started today by calling the Law Offices of J.M. Kotzker at (919) 439-5104 or by filling out our contact form below.