None of us expects to be involved in a car accident. Unfortunately, hit and run accidents are far too common on Texas roadways. The term “hit and run” refers to someone involved in a motor vehicle collision who leaves and doesn’t remain at the scene of the accident. Leaving the accident scene is illegal in Texas when someone is injured, or there has been property damage. Texas prosecutors take hit and run crimes seriously, and if you are facing DWI charges on top of a hit and run crime, you could face jail time and significant fines. The prosecutor could seek an indictment from a grand jury and charge you with a felony hit-and-run. If you’ve been accused of a hit and run, we recommend speaking with a criminal defense lawyer. Contact Ceja Law Firm PLLC today to schedule your initial consultation and learn how we can develop an effective defense strategy on your behalf.
Hit and Run Car Accidents Involving Property Damage
According to the Texas Transportation Code, drivers involved in a motor vehicle accident that causes property damage must try to find the owner of the vehicle they’ve hit. Suppose you were driving in a parking lot and collided with a parked car. You need to try to find the owner and provide your contact and insurance information.
If you are unable to contact the vehicle owner, you must leave a note in a conspicuous place with your contact information, including your name and address. When a driver fails to leave a note with their contact information on the damaged vehicle, prosecutors can charge them with the following penalties:
- When the damage is less than $200, the defendant will face a Class C misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $500
- When the driver leaves the accident scene that caused property damage to landscaping or a fixture, the defendant faces a Class C misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500
- When any of the damage is over $200, the defendant faces a Class B misdemeanor along with up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000
Hit and Runs Involving Death or Injuries
When a driver is involved in a car accident that results in the injury or death of another person, the driver cannot leave the accident scene. The driver must contact law enforcement and stay at the accident scene with the injured victim until law enforcement arrives. If the driver leaves the accident scene, he or she must return to the scene to provide contact information with any of the other drivers involved in the accident.
When one more person is severely injured or dies from a car accident, leaving the scene of the accident carries significant penalties. For example, if the driver leaves the accident scene and the victim ends up dying from his or her injuries, the driver who engaged in a hit-and-run will face third-degree felony charges. In Texas, a third-degree felony is punishable by two to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. If the injuries aren’t severe, the punishment will be a fine of up to $5,000 and prison up to five years or up to one year in county jail.
The Penalties of a Hit and Run DWI in Texas
The penalties for a hit-and-run while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are even more serious than other hit-and-run charges. When one of the drivers involved is intoxicated, they can face additional charges for driving while under the influence (DWI) in a hit and run. The penalties for a DWI conviction in Texas vary on several factors, including whether you’ve been convicted before. A DWI conviction can include jail time, community service, probation, participation in a DWI intervention program, and fines.
Additionally, if you’re convicted of a DWI, you could face a driver’s license suspension. When the hit-and-run accident involved serious injuries or death, you could face other charges, including vehicular manslaughter or intoxicated assault. These charges are felony-level offenses that carry serious prison time and up to $10,000 in fines.
Defenses Against Hit and Run Charges in Texas
In many cases, people who leave the scene of the accident don’t have any malicious intent. They may become worried or scared and decide to leave the parking lot thinking everything is okay. Or, they may be unsure of what steps they have to take. Panic is a reasonable response after an accident, and some people don’t respond rationally because they are experiencing an adrenaline surge after a frightening experience.
There are several different legal arguments your defense lawyer can utilize on your behalf. Your lawyer may be able to get a deferred adjudication Class C misdemeanor reduction. This type of charge can be expunged from your record later. If you haven’t admitted to leaving the scene of the accident to a police officer, you may be able to avoid arrest. Our goal is to investigate your case and help you avoid a criminal conviction if possible. We can also negotiate with the prosecution for a lower-level charge. If you made an honest mistake, you need an experienced lawyer who will provide you with an excellent defense.
Contact a Houston Hit and Run DWI Lawyer Today
Are you facing charges for a hit-and-run? If so, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer. At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, our lawyers have extensive experience in the area of criminal traffic law. We will investigate your case and find out if you’ve been charged with leaving the scene of the accident. Our law firm has the experience and resources necessary to provide you with an excellent legal defense. Contact us today to set up your confidential consultation to learn more about how we can protect your rights.