According to data collected in 2015 by the California Highway Patrol on hit and run collisions throughout LA County, there were almost 30,000 hit and run cases reported. Therefore, it should not be surprising that hit and defense accounts for a very large portion of our criminal defense firm’s case load. The following are the most common questions posed to us by our clients charged with hit & run in Los Angeles County:
Is it still a Hit & Run if I’m not at fault for the collision?
Yes. Responsibility or liability for a collision is not a factor. Whether you are deemed at-fault or not, you are required to remain at the scene of a traffic collision to provide proof of financial responsibility under California Vehicle Code statutes 20002 and 20001.
Is it still considered a Hit & Run if there was barely any damage?
Yes. Even the most minor collisions or “fender benders” can result in misdemeanor hit and run charges. Whether you chipped a little paint or caused a minor scratch to another party’s vehicle or property, damage is considered damage.
Will a Hit & Run conviction suspend my license?
Possibly. In California, hit and run is prosecuted under two separate statutes, VC 20002 and VC 20001. Your license can be suspended as a result of a hit and run conviction depending on which hit and run statute you are charged with, however. Hit and run charges under VC 20002 are related to collisions involving property damage with no injuries involved. In addition, non-injury hit and run are charged as misdemeanors and do NOT carry a license suspension as a consequence of conviction. Alternatively, hit and run involving injury to another under VC 20001 can not only be elevated to a felony, a conviction, even at misdemeanor level, would result in a license suspension.
Lastly, convictions for both misdemeanor hit and run under VC 20002 and hit and run with injury under VC 20001 carry 2 DMV driving points. Therefore, you could also face a DMV Negligent Operator suspension if the existing points on your driving record combine with your 2 additional hit and run points to put you over your annual point allotment.
Will my insurance cover the damages after a hit and run?
More than likely. Even if you are convicted of hit and run, your insurance would still be responsible for covering your damages, as well as the damage to the victim’s vehicle or property. However, in some circumstances involving DUI hit & run charges, your insurance may be able to invoke a clause in your policy to deny coverage if you have prior DUI convictions.
Is hit and run a felony in California?
It can be. Most hit and runs are of the non-injury variety generally involving unoccupied parked vehicles. Therefore, the majority of Los Angeles hit and run cases are charged as misdemeanor crimes. However, a hit and run can be prosecuted as a felony under VC 20001 if the collision results in injuries to another. As as a “wobbler” offense, hit and run with injury can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the seriousness of the victim’s injuries.
Do I have to speak to police if I’m investigated for Hit & Run?
No. You are under no obligation to speak with police if you are contacted in connection with a hit and run investigation. Regardless of whether you were in fact driving or not, it is always best to consult with an experienced hit and run attorney as soon as you receive contact from a police detective or investigator.
Contact our Hit & Run defense lawyers if you have additional questions
The Southern California criminal defense attorneys at Sitkoff & Hanrahan, LLP have over three decades of experience defending hit and run charges in Los Angeles. If you have questions regarding a recent hit and run arrest, citation, or investigation letter, call our office today at (866) 430-8383 for a free consultation.