Penalties For Hit And Run DUI’s In Louisiana: Everything You Need To Know
What is the penalty for a hit and run DUI in Louisiana: Fleeing the scene of an accident when you collided with another vehicle while under the influence is a serious crime in the state of Louisiana. Not only is it reckless, but people can potentially die from their injuries when their deaths could’ve been prevented with the perpetrator calling emergency services at the scene.
As with any crime, the sentence depends on several factors:
- The seriousness of injury to either party
- Death to accident victim
- Damage to victim’s vehicle
- Previous criminal history of related crimes (such as driving without a license, previous DUIs, etc.)
Proving you were drunk during the time of the accident can be tricky, as it relies on the testimonies of accident victims, passengers in your own vehicle, and any possible witnesses. If all or most of these witnesses give convincing testimony that you were drunk at the time of the accident, then the prosecution will have a strong case to charge you for hit and run DUI.
Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime in itself in Louisiana, and the more severe the injuries to the accident victim(s), the harsher the penalties.
Below, we’ll go into more detail on each of these factors and how they ultimately affect the sentence.
What Is A Hit And Run?
Hit and run – also known as fleeing the scene – is a change where the at-fault driver causes an accident and leaves without offering aid, calling the police, and giving identity (such as driver’s license number, plate number, or insurance info).
Hit and run can be a serious charge, especially if you cause serious injury to the other party.
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Seriousness of Injury to Either Party
If neither party is injured and both parties are insured, you – as the guilty party who was intoxicated at the time of the accident – can spend a minimum of 10 days in jail if it is your first offense.
Hit and run is considered a misdemeanor in Louisiana, but if you cause an accident while under the influence, the police may also charge you with DUI and reckless driving. This can carry a penalty of 6 months in jail.
If the accident victim sustains any injuries, the penalty will be progressively harsher depending on the severity of the victim’s injuries. Serious injury to the accident victim – meaning unconsciousness, permanent damage (like paralysis), serious concussions, the loss of limbs, and other major injuries – are felony charges. You can face up to ten years in prison for causing serious injury to an accident victim before fleeing the scene. You may also be ordered to pay a fine of up to $5,000.
Death to Accident Victim
Vehicular homicide is a heavy charge in Louisiana, and vehicular homicide due to DUI carries an even heavier sentence – especially if you flee the scene.
You can face up to twenty years in prison for a hit and run vehicular homicide, regardless of whether you were intoxicated.
Twenty years is usually the maximum charge, which considers factors such as fleeing the scene, intoxication, number of accident victims killed during the crash, previous DUI arrests and convictions, and lack of insurance.
Damage to Victim’s Vehicle and Insurance
Also, if you have no auto insurance and are found to be at fault for the accident, you are 100% responsible for damages caused during the accident. This can be financially devastating, especially if the victim requires emergency medical care, a hospital stay, and their vehicle is totaled.
Having no insurance and causing an accident while under the influence can carry a prison sentence, the length of which depends on the severity of the damage and injuries to the victim.
Even if no one is injured, you may spend time in jail for DUI as well as face a hefty fine for driving without insurance.
Prior Criminal History
A first offense DUI can carry a minimum of ten days in jail. But if you’re not a first time offender and it can be proven that you were under the influence during a crash you caused of which you fled the scene, you can be looking at a much longer sentence.
A driver with a prior criminal history who causes an accident while drunk and flees the scene faces a hefty sentence of between 5 – 20 years in prison. The more serious the injury to the accident victim, the longer the sentence.
What Do I Do If I’m Charged with a Hit and Run DUI?
If you are charged with a DUI hit and run in Louisiana, the first thing you want to do is get a good defense attorney. Defense attorneys compile evidence for your case to try and get you as light a sentence as possible.
Conclusion: What is the penalty for a hit and run DUI in Louisiana?
DUI hit and run can be a serious offense in Louisiana. The more severe the damage and injuries to the other party, the heavier the penalty.
Factors such as previous criminal history, serious injury/death to the accident victim, and level of intoxication all play a role in determining guilt. Depending on the evidence and severity of injury, you can face between 6 months and 20 years behind bars.