December 09, 2018

Hit and Run

 

 

In Washington, the crime of Hit and Run can be either a Simple Misdemeanor or a Gross Misdemeanor, depending on the way the crime is charged. The factor that determines if it is the more serious charge (Gross Misdemeanor) is whether the defendant hit an attended vehicle. A description of each charge is as follows:

 

Hit and Run – Attended Vehicle

This is the more serious of the two misdemeanor level charges. It is a Gross Misdemeanor, meaning that you can potentially be sentenced up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. A conviction to this offense also leads to a one year license suspension from the Department of Licensing.


The Elements


1. The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person [shall immediately move the vehicle to the nearest suitable location] and remain at this location until the driver has provided his or her name, address, insurance company, insurance policy number and vehicle license number and exhibit his or her driver’s license number.

2. Any driver … failing to stop or to comply with any of the requirements listed above shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

In simple terms, if an individual strikes another vehicle that is occupied, they must immediately stop and exchange all relevant contact and insurance information. This is true even if you are not at fault!


Other Collateral Consequences of “Attended”


As mentioned above, a conviction will result in a one year loss of license. While the person is serving the term of their loss of license, they will be allowed to obtain an Occupational or Restricted License. In addition, for individuals with a CDL, there will most likely be a consequence to their privilege to operate a commercial vehicle. There are ways to resolve a Hit and Run Attended without all of these negative consequences, but that will be outlined after the section on Hit and Run Unattended, because these more favorable ways to resolve a case often apply to both Attended and Unattended.


Hit and Run – Unattended Vehicle or Other Property


This is the lesser of the two offenses. It is a Simple Misdemeanor, meaning that you can potentially be sentenced up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.


The Elements


(1) The operator of any vehicle which collided with any other vehicle which is unattended shall immediately stop and shall then and there either locate and notify the operator of owner of such vehicle [providing the owner of the struck vehicle your name and address]

(2) The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to property … adjacent to a public highway shall take reasonable steps to locate and notify the owner … of such fact and of the name and address of the operator and owner of the vehicle striking such property, or shall leave in a conspicuous place upon the property struck a written notice [providing the owner your name and address…

 

In simple terms, a person who collides with an unattended vehicle, or property that is adjacent to the roadway must stop and either locate the owner of such property or leave in a conspicuous place a note providing all of your relevant information.


Other Collateral Consequences of “Unattended”

 

Unlike Hit and Run Attended, Unattended DOES NOT result in a suspension or revocation of a person’s drivers license. However, a conviction of this charge will most likely increase your insurance rates. Lastly, for the driver with a CDL, an Unattended will most likely result in a CDL disqualification, just as it does for an Attended. 

Hit and Run – Ways to Resolve


For both Hit and Run – Attended and Hit and Run – Unattended, many of the potential resolutions of the charges are the same. The attorneys at Witt Law Group are always looking to avoid a conviction when resolving a case, thus avoiding all the negative consequences that were discussed above.

Common ways that we avoid convictions for our clients are through two different instruments, 1. a Pre-Trial Diversion Agreement (or PDA), or 2. a Compromise of Misdemeanor. Typically, both will achieve the end result of dismissal of the charge.

Our website offers an in-depth analysis of both the PDA and the Compromise of Misdemeanor. To learn more about each, click the following links:

 

Pre-Trial Diversion Agreement

Compromise of Misdemeanor

 

Drivers who receive these charges often think this charge is going to be the end of the world. That is not the case. Our attorneys have been handling these cases for nearly two decades and the results are often surprisingly positive.
Witt Law Group is a Hit and Run defense law firm with locations in Bremerton and Gig Harbor Washington. Please reach out if you have been charged or have any question about this topic.

 

If you were involved in an accident in the middle of the night (attended or unattended), give our office a call immediately. There may be action that you can take to avoid the crime entirely or create an absolute defense if the crime is later charged.


If your Hit and Run is charged as a Felony, the above analysis does not apply. Call our office to discuss the specifics.

Published in Criminal Defense

 

In Kitsap County District Court, often people accused of DUI or other crimes hear the term Pre-Trial Diversion Agreement, or PDA. Many people call to ask us “what is a PDA? and, is it a good deal?” I will answer that in two parts.

1. What is a PDA?

A PDA is a contract that a defendant, in some situations, can enter into with the State attorney. It is an agreement to “be good” for typically two years and abide by some negotiated conditions. The conditions typically are pay a probation assessment of about $400, pay restitution to the law enforcement agency, obtain a chemical dependency evaluation (and follow through) and finally, complete a defensive driving class. The “be good’ that I referenced means commit no new crimes for the duration of the agreement.
If these conditions are met during the agreed upon time period, typically the charge of DUI is reduced down to the lesser charge of Negligent Driving in the First Degree. This will come with zero days in jail and a nominal fine.
Again, not everyone qualifies for such a contract, but if you are accused of a DUI, you should always find out if such a deal can be offered. Issues that preclude the State attorney from offering this contract include, but are not limited to – priors, refusing the breath test, or a high blow.

2. Is it a good deal?

That is hard to say. In most circumstances, yes. In other circumstances it is not a good deal. For example, if a defendant has a great suppression issue, then that defendant may need his attorney to push for an outright dismissal of the case. It is absolutely a case by case call. There are a vast number of defenses that can be present that only a DUI Defense attorney could recognize.

What should I do if I am accused of DUI or any crime in District or Municipal Court?

You need to contact a well-respected defense attorney right away. There are some defenses that are time sensitive. A PDA may be a good deal, and it may not. It all comes down to the facts of your individual case. The attorneys at Witt Law Group have been defending DUI and criminal defense cases in Western Washington for more than 14 years. We handle DUI cases in Kitsap and Jefferson Counties and all the municipalities therein. Call our offices in Gig Harbor at (253) 312-3838 or Bremerton (360) 792-1000, for a free, private consultation.

Published in Witt Law Group Blog