DWI accidents are very serious, but they can be even worse when a driver is accused of hitting and running. USA Today reports that, in the United States, about 11% of all traffic accidents are hit-and-run accidents. A hit-and-run is an offense that occurs when a driver gets into an accident and then leaves the scene before police can respond. In New Hampshire, drivers have a duty to report any accident that caused property damage or injury. Not doing so can result in a charge of failing to report as well as accusations of other criminal offenses such as DWI. When a driver causes an accident and then leave the scene, police are often suspicious of their motives. Many times, when the driver is caught, they will be accused of driving under the influence as the reason that they left the scene of the accident.
According to a November, 2013 article in USA today, hit-and-run crashes are on the rise in the United States. The article reports that from 2009 to 2011, hit-and-run cases have increased in the U.S. by more than 13% and interviews several experts as to what motivates someone to leave the scene. The Department of Economics at the University of Vermont chairwoman, Sara Solnick, has studied hit-and-run accidents had this to say:
"Drivers are more likely to run if they feel there is a reason to do so. They're more likely to have high blood-alcohol content, or they're driving without a license, or they're very young drivers."
Leaving the scene of an accident is never a good idea. Often these accidents are reported by a witness and the offending driver is soon caught. When this happens they will face a number of charges, especially if drugs or alcohol were involved.
The Penalties for a DWI related Hit-and-Run in New Hampshire
There are many charges that can result from a hit and run situation. First, RSA 264:25 states that a driver who knows or should reasonably have known that they were involved in an accident which resulted in death, personal injury or damage to property should immediately stop their vehicle at the scene and give anyone involved, including the owner of the property damaged, the following information:
- The driver's name and address
- The driver's license number
- The registration number of the vehicle
- The name and address of each occupant of the vehicle
If anyone is not available to be given this information, such as the property owner cannot be located, it should be given to a police officer who is called to the scene or reported at the nearest police station. Anyone who fails to comply with these requirements can be charged with a class B felony if death or personal injury results. The penalties for a class B felony in New Hampshire include:
- 3.5 to 7 years of imprisonment
- Up to $2000 in fines
In addition to this, a driver may also be accused of driving while intoxicated and be charged with DWI. This is very common in hit-and-run cases. Even a first time DWI conviction can lead to license suspension, fines, and more.
If serious bodily harm occurred in the accident, the charge will be increased to an aggravated DWI offense. Under New Hampshire law, serious bodily injured is defined as " any harm to the body which causes severe, permanent or protracted loss of or impairment to the health or of the function of any part of the body.” The penalties for an aggravated DWI that involves serious injury include:
- Class B felony criminal charges
- A fine of at least $1,000
- At least 35 days of jail time- At least 14 of which cannot be suspended
- A full substance use disorder evaluation and counseling, if necessary
- Installation of an ignition interlock device
- License suspension of 18 months to 2 years
- Random drug testing, if necessary
If you have been arrested fora hit-and-run accident in New Hampshire and accused of driving under the influence, make sure you contact an experienced DWI attorney right away. As the USA today reports, while other types of fatal vehicle accidents are decreasing, hit-and-run crashes are actually increasing causing states to crack down on anyone accused of fleeing the scene of an auto accident. This offense can result in multiple charges of felony crimes. In addition to the sentences listed above, a hit-and-run conviction will also be reported on any background check that is performed by potential employers or educational institutions and will cause your auto insurance rates to increase sharply.