I was not drinking but looked at my phone and scraped (no dent, just paint loss) the car in front of me as I was changing lanes to the right. I don't know what this looked like to the witness who called it in, but I am concerned that I may have appeared impaired to the witness. Making matters worse is that as I pulled to the right I merged onto a separate freeway before pulling over. I just freaked out once I made contact with the car and I didn't stop immediately, assuming they would follow me which they did not. Since the car I hit did not follow me, I did not report the accident but a witness clearly did as my parents received a letter in the mail about an accident involving a car registered to my father. I am terrified that they will try to pin a DUI on me even though I was not drunk.
DUI / DWI Attorney
Typically it is difficult for the prosecution to charge you with a DUI when they don't have any evidence of alcohol. You still have a big problem with the hit and run. Do not speak to the authorities without speaking to an attorney first. Anything you say can be used against you and you. I would contact an experienced DUI lawyer. We handle this situation all the time. Good luck.
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I totally agree with Mr. Skalsky. There is no way prosecution can charge you with DUI, just because a witness may have said you looked "impaired" does not make you so. But, you said a witness saw you, and obviously took your license plate, reported to the police and that's how your father got a letter.
The DAs office will file "Hit and Run" VC 20002(a) against you. It is a serious charge but not as serious as a DUI. Hire a lawyer and try to get it down to something like a reckless driving with far less consequences. There are ways of doing it.
Based on what you've described, there is almost no chance that you'll be charged with a DUI. While I can think of a few exceptions, such as a currently ongoing case in Santa Barbara, it is almost impossible to prosecute a DUI case where there has been no chemical test or refusal. Consult with a locally experienced attorney regarding the hit and run charges. Good luck.
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
As my colleagues have indicated, it will be difficult (if not impossible!) to prove you were intoxicated at the time you drove.
The accident is another matter entirely. The police can proceed and you can be prosecuted based on a witness statement, if it is determined that statement is reliable.
Speak with an attorney experienced in traffic and criminal defense as quickly as you are able.
Christopher I. Simser, Sr.
Syracuse- Albany - Rochester - Buffalo
Criminal Defense Attorney
I certainly see this as a criminal law problem because of the hit and run allegation, but I don't see any risk of a DUI conviction. Letters from law enforcement are typically invitations to come in and talk to the investigating officer. DON'T TALK TO THE POLICE WITHOUT A LAWYER! In fact, it's best to speak with no one (including your parents) other than your lawyer who should be able to clear this up for you - perhaps even before it ever gets filed as a criminal court case. Feel free to contact me at 818-500-0678 with any additional questions you might have.
The information I provide is as a public courtesy only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Only a formal written agreement between us will establish an attorney-client relationship. In criminal cases, speak with nobody except privately with an attorney about your case facts. In personal injury cases, all cases are governed by statutes of limitation which create deadlines to bring your case, and if you miss the deadline(s) you risk forever losing your rights.
No there will be insufficient evidence for a DUI - what you should be concerned about is leaving the scene. You may want to consult a criminal attorney in that regard, but definitely get this reported to your insurance for handling.
Unlikely, but don't give any statements without a lawyer
DUI / DWI Attorney
You should consult with an attorney right away. Often in these types of case an experienced attorney may be able to intervene and resolve the issues short of having to go to court. The longer you wait the harder it is to intervene. You should not make any statements to the police or your insurance company until you retain a qualified attorney. Don't wait until the court date comes up - act now.
Contributions to AVVO.com do not establish an attorney-client relationship.