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San Diego DUI and Hit and Run Defense Attorney. Former San Diego DUI Prosecutor explains

by | Jun 16, 2020 | Firm News |

Combination of VC 23152 and VC 20002.  If you are charged with both a DUI and a hit and run, your case is particularly serious.  DUI and Hit and Run cases are treated seriously.

A DUI and a hit and run are two separate charges.  They are charged separately as two counts against the person charged.  However, the combination of a DUI and hit and run, especially in San Diego County courts, can cause especially harsh punishment.

What is the law regarding DUI and Hit and Run cases?  Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, drugs, or any combination of both, are made illegal by the various subsections under Vehicle Code section 23152.

Hit and run is a crime, and thus illegal by Vehicle Code VC 20002.  If you are charged with both of these crimes, you want to call the Law Offices of Mark Deniz at 858-751-4384.

A San Diego DUI can be a felony or a misdemeanor depending on whether or not there are any injuries to another person (other than the driver of the vehicle that was charged with the crimes). A DUI is a felony if there is “great bodily injury”, which is legalese for serious injury.  A felony DUI also exists when there are three or more prior DUI convictions in the past 10 years.  The San Diego District Attorney’s Office is particularly aggressive in punishment of DUI-Driving Under the Influence cases.

Likewise, a hit and run can be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on how serious the injuries (if any) are.  A hit and run that involves other cars only, or property (like a parked car, light pole, tree, sign, or railing), is always a misdemeanor.  A hit and run that causes serious injury to another person is a felony.  Be proactive and call the Law Offices of Mark Deniz at 858-751-4384.

What needs to be proven for DUI and Hit and Run cases to be convicted?

For a DUI when a hit and run is also alleged, the jury instructions tell a judge or jury that they must find the following true beyond a reasonable doubt, in order to convict:

1. The defendant drove a vehicle;

2. When (he/she) drove, the defendant was under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug];

3. While driving under the influence, the defendant also (committed an illegal act/ [or] neglected to perform a legal duty);


4. The defendant’s (illegal act/ [or] failure to perform a legal duty) caused bodily injury to another person. (If there is an injury).

The “legal duty” refers to the duties under the law to stop and exchange information whenever there is an accident.  That makes the hit and run charge.

For a hit and run, the jury instructions tell a judge or jury that they must find the following true beyond a reasonable doubt, in order to convict:

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

1. While driving, the defendant was involved in a vehicle accident;

2. The accident caused damage to someone else’s property;

3. The defendant knew that (he/she) had been involved in an accident that caused property damage [or knew from the nature of the accident that it was probable that property had been damaged];


4. The defendant willfully failed to perform one or more of the following duties: (a) To stop immediately at the scene of the accident; OR (b) To provide the owner or person in control of the damaged property with (his/her) name and current residence address [and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle the defendant was driving].

What are the defenses to DUI and Hit and Run cases?

There are many defenses to a DUI case, and there are defenses to a hit and run case as well.  Our approach to DUI defense is to carefully review all the evidence in the case, to look closely at all facts and all legal defenses that help our clients.

For a DUI case, defenses and our approach include the following:

We look closely at the reason you were pulled over for DUI, to see if a probable cause issue might lead to a motion to suppress evidence, and thus dismiss the DUI, and look carefully at all aspects of the field sobriety testing and scrutinize the chemical test to see if the testing machine, or agencies, complied with the strict requirements of the law.  For example, machines can malfunction or not be properly calibrated, blood levels can fail to take into consideration a rising blood alcohol scenario.

For a hit and run case, defenses include the following:

  • You were not aware that you hit something;
  • You were not actually the driver or driving;
  • Physically you were not able to provide assistance or exchange information;
  • You did not willfully leave the scene of the accident.

How can a defense attorney help in DUI and Hit and Run cases?

You want to have an experienced attorney who knows what works in the court where your case is being handled and can assert that the case should not be a felony if charged as one, and that it cannot be proven, or that the elements charged as a DUI or as a hit and run do not apply in this case.  Your legal defenses under criminal law apply.  And mitigation evidence to lower the charges would apply in any case to present information about you as a person, and ask the court or prosecutor to lower the charges, or lower the sentence in the case.  Mark Deniz is a former Prosecutor of almost 10 years with proven results in all San Diego county.  Be proactive and call 858-751-4384.

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