Investigators reported that the driver fled the scene after the collision but was later arrested in Rancho Santa Margarita. According to a KABC-TV report, the accident occurred when the driver was turning near Santiago Canyon Road and Loma Ridge around 7:00am. The driver struck the 21-year-old bicyclist, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
Drivers who leave the scene of an accident or who cause injury while driving drunk may face criminal charges and harsh penalties, including imprisonment, fines and license suspension. They may also face civil actions filed by the victims or families of victims of these incidents. A combination of felony DUI and hit-and-run charges, as the driver discussed above is currently facing, is one of the most serious situations a driver may face.
A driver in this scenario may face criminal charges under California Penal Code § 191.5 for vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, under California Vehicle Code § 23153 for DUI causing injury or under California Vehicle Code § 20001 for the failure to stop at the scene of an accident. The type and severity of charges a driver may face will vary depending on the circumstances at hand, including preliminary evidence or statements recovered by law enforcement. Penalties may range from up to 1 year in county jail all the way to 10 years in state prison.
Considering the grave consequences of DUI or hit-and-run charges, it is important to exercise your right to legal counsel if you have been arrested. Even if you have been contacted for questioning, you should remember that the steps you take at this point could have a dramatic influence on the outcome of your case. Early involvement of a competent attorney can help you avoid facing formal charges in the first place.
Accidents happen, and involvement in a collision does not necessarily mean that a driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident. To secure a conviction for DUI with injury or vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, the prosecution must prove beyond a doubt that the driver was actually under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident and that the driver violated a traffic law or otherwise acted negligently and caused the collision.
Do not allow yourself to be intimidated into confessing to a crime you did not commit, and do not sacrifice your future by trusting your case to an inexperienced public defender. Involve an Orange County DUI lawyer who has the skill and experience to make a difference in your case. Contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry today.