Are you facing charges for a hit and run in Cincinnati? You may be feeling frightened and worried about your future. A hit and run conviction can cause you to lose your license and even your freedom with jail time of up to 8 years, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
While you may feel hopeless, there are defenses to a hit and run charge. An experienced Cincinnati hit and run defense lawyer can help you investigate your accident and explore potential defenses. At Suhre & Associates, LLC, our Cincinnati hit and run defense lawyer represent drivers facing hit-skip charges in Cincinnati. Call us today to schedule your free case consultation and explore your options.
How Suhre & Associates, LLC Can Help If You’ve Been Charged with a Hit and Run
Facing criminal charges can be a frightening prospect. You may be unsure where to turn or how to defend yourself as you face the stiff penalties under Ohio hit-skip laws. You do not need to face these charges alone: an experienced Cincinnati criminal lawyer from Suhre & Associates, LLC is here to help you.
At Suhre & Associates, LLC, our team includes former prosecutors and a former police officer. We use over 100 years of combined experience, insight into the tactics the other side uses, and thorough investigation to give our clients the best legal defense possible.
Principal lawyer Joe Suhre has more than 19 years of experience in criminal defense and five years of experience as a police officer. Suhre has been recognized by several organizations including as a Rising Star Super Lawyer in DUI/OVI defense, a Super Lawyer in Cincinnati, and a Leading Lawyer in DUI/OVI defense by Cincy Business magazine for 14 years running.
Don’t lose hope; contact a Cincinnati hit and run lawyer at Suhre & Associates, LLC today to get started on your defense.
What is a Hit and Run in Cincinnati?
When you do not stop after an accident and provide required information, you may be charged with a hit and run, in Ohio known as hit and skip.
There are three statutes under the Ohio Revised Code that address a driver’s duty to stop after an accident:
- Ohio Revised Code 4549.02 requires stopping after an accident on public roads or highways
- Ohio Revised Code 4549.021 requires stopping after an accident on roadways that are not public
- Ohio Revised Code 4549.03 requires stopping after an accident involving damage to real property or personal property that is attached to real property
Under Ohio law, motorists are required to stop immediately and remain at the scene of an accident until they have provided their name, address, and license plate number to any person injured in the crash, an occupant, an operator, or owner or any police officer.
If the other vehicle is not occupied, motorists should securely attach their information in writing conspicuously on the vehicle. If the other driver cannot record or comprehend the information, the motorist should notify police and wait for emergency personnel or law enforcement.
When involved in a crash that causes damage to real property or personal property, motorists must stop and take reasonable measures to find and notify the owner of the property and provide the above information. If the owner cannot be found, the motorist should forward information to the city or village police department within 24 hours.
Under Ohio’s failure to stop laws, motorists who fail to stop after a motor vehicle accident to share contact information can be charged with a hit and run, also known as a hit-skip or leaving the scene of an accident.
What Are the Punishments for a Hit and Run?
If convicted for leaving the scene of an accident, you can face stiff penalties under Ohio law. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, a hit and run can be a first-degree misdemeanor or up to a second-degree felony. Penalties can include not only jail time but hefty fees, loss of your driver’s license, and points on your license.
The classification of the charge largely depends on whether the accident in Ohio resulted in injuries or death.
Penalties for Hit and Run Without Injuries
In most cases, failure to stop in Ohio is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and up to $500 in fines and penalties. Along with jail time, you will face a minimum driver’s license suspension of six months.
Penalties for Hit and Run With Injuries
If someone was seriously injured in the accident, the charge is automatically elevated.
When the accident causes a serious injury, the charge can become a fifth-degree felony punishable by 6-12 months in prison and up to $2,500 in fines. There is also a minimum license suspension of 6 months. It can be elevated to a fourth-degree felony with up to 18 months in prison if you were aware of the serious injury before leaving the scene.
A third-degree felony will be charged if you are convicted of fleeing the scene of an accident that caused a death. This comes with a penalty of up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines along with license suspension. If you were aware the accident caused a death and left the scene, the charge can be upgraded to a second-degree felony punishable by up to 8 years in prison.
If you had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater, or you were under the influence of a controlled substance, fleeing the scene of an accident that causes injury or death can come with charges of vehicular assault or vehicular homicide. These charges are first, second, or third degree felonies.
License Suspension & Points After a Hit and Run
It isn’t just jail time and fees that you may face after a hit and skip conviction in Cincinnati. A conviction comes with a class five license suspension of at least 6 months and up to 3 years. This can impact your livelihood and other areas of your life.
The six-month license suspension is called a hard suspension because your license cannot be reinstated, although a Cincinnati hit and run defense lawyer may help you seek restricted driving privileges.
You will also face 6 points being added to your driving record. This will prompt a warning letter from the BMV. If you reach 12 points within 24 months, your license is automatically suspended for 6 months. Reinstating your license requires a remedial driving class, retaking the license exam, filing a certificate of insurance, and paying a fee.
Why Do Drivers Leave the Scene of an Accident?
There are many reasons a motorist may decide to leave the scene of an accident. Some of these reasons are a good defense against a hit and run defense. Common reasons to leave the scene include:
- Not realizing an accident happened
- Fearing consequences
- Panic or disorientation
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving with an invalid or suspended license
- Driving without insurance
- Outstanding warrant or on probation
Pedestrians overwhelmingly account for most people killed in fatal hit and run accidents. According to a AAA study, environmental factors outside the driver’s control like roadway geometry and lighting increase the risk of an accident. 33% of these accidents involved a pedestrian with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher.
No matter why you left the scene of an accident, the Cincinnati hit and run defense lawyers at Suhre & Associates, LLC are here to help you. We will explore your case in detail and help you understand your legal rights and possible avenues of defense.
How Can I Defend Myself if I’m Facing a Hit and Run Charge?
People who are charged with hit and run in Ohio may face a great deal of public scrutiny and the stigma associated with the charge. Hit and run drivers are often in the news and face automatic assumptions that they were merely fleeing for fear of being at fault for an accident or caught for a different crime. The truth is many drivers have legitimate reasons for leaving the scene and there are many ways to defend yourself against a hit and run charge.
Note that Ohio law does not protect accident victims from being charged with leaving the scene of an accident. Sadly, it’s not uncommon for accident victims, disoriented and potentially hurt, to panic and leave the scene. Many simply assume they do not need to remain at the scene when another driver was clearly at fault.
At Suhre & Associates, LLC, we will work with you to investigate your accident and build a defense to the charge you are facing. The following are some possible defenses against a hit skip charge in Cincinnati.
You did not know you were in an accident
Sometimes seemingly minor accidents can go unnoticed by a motorist. You may not have realized you clipped a vehicle or even a person and continued driving. The prosecution has the burden to prove you had knowledge of the collision to convict you.
This happened in the recent case of Fairfield v. Eubanks in Butler County. In this case, a bar employee claimed a motorist clipped his knee while leaving but there was no evidence the driver realized she hit him. She was not aware she had been in an accident until she was later pulled over and her hit skip charge was dismissed.
You were charged under a statute that does not apply
It’s not uncommon for law enforcement to write a ticket under the wrong statute. This is why it’s important to have a hit and run defense lawyer in Cincinnati review your ticket.
For example, if an accident occurred on private property, a driver may be mistakenly cited and charged for the hit skip statute 4549.02 which only applies to public roads and highways. You may even be charged mistakenly under this statute if you were involved in a one-car accident, which means the only party you need to notify is yourself.
You were charged under Ohio R.C. 4549.03 within the 24-hour reporting period
If you are involved in an accident that only causes property damage and you cannot locate the owner, you are given 24 hours under the law to report the incident to law enforcement. If you are arrested and charged before the 24-hour period is up, you may have a strong defense.
You had a valid reason for leaving the scene of the accident
While you are almost always required to stop at the scene of an accident to provide information, there are some exceptions to this. You may have a defense if you had an emergency that prevented you from staying at the scene or you did not leave willfully.
Contact a Cincinnati Hit and Run Defense Lawyer Today
If you are facing a hit and run charge, it’s crucial to contact a Cincinnati hit and run defense lawyer as soon as possible. A hit and run charge can be frightening and threatens not only your ability to drive but also your freedom. The sooner you speak with a lawyer, the sooner you can begin exploring defense options and gathering evidence to defend yourself.
At Suhre & Associates, LLC, we represent drivers who have been charged with a hit and run with 100 years of combined experience in criminal defense, law enforcement, and prosecution. Call our legal team today to schedule your consultation with a Cincinnati hit and run defense lawyer to protect your rights.