There are many crimes which can occur while driving a vehicle. DUIs are perhaps the most common vehicle-related crime. In addition, there are several other notable vehicle crimes, which do not involve an allegation of intoxication.
Driving a vehicle and evading a police officer is a crime (Vehicle Code § 2800.2). To prove evading, the prosecution must show that the pursuing police car was distinctively marked, had a continuous siren, and a forward-facing red light. Simple evading is a misdemeanor (Vehicle Code §2800.1). If the defendant is alleged to have also driven recklessly, the evading charge can be filed as a felony with a three-year state prison maximum or a misdemeanor with a minimum of six months jail. If the defendant is alleged to have caused great bodily injury (“GBI”) or death to another person while evading (Vehicle Code § 2800.3), then the maximum term is seven or ten years, respectively.
Hit and run is another vehicle offense, which can be filed as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the harm caused (Vehicle Code §§ 20001, 20002). This crime can be charged based on allegations that the defendant failed to stop, give assistance, and provide required information (including name, address, registration) after being involved in an accident that he or she reasonably should have known may have injured another person or caused property damage. If the defendant is alleged to have fled an accident which caused death or GBI, then the hit and run charge can be filed as a felony with a four-year maximum sentence or as a misdemeanor with a minimum of 90 days jail (though the court has discretion to find less or no jail is required given “the interests of justice”). Hit and run only causing property damage is a misdemeanor.
Another vehicle offense is reckless driving (Vehicle Code § 23103), which is based on allegations that the defendant drove on a highway with wanton disregard for safety or persons or property. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor with a required jail term of five to 90 days. Engaging in a speed contest (Vehicle Code § 23109) is a related misdemeanor, which can result in a jail term of 24 hours to 90 days and a license suspension. Reckless driving causing injury to another carries a jail term of 30 to 180 days. If the defendant has a prior conviction for reckless driving, the penalties are greater in all future cases.
Driving with a suspended or revoked license (Vehicle Code §§ 14601, 14601.2, 14601.2, 14601.3, 14601.4, 14601.5, 12500) is only a misdemeanor offense but carry a hefty fine of around $2,000, a handful of days in jail, and other possible terms like a mandatory vehicle impound or the installation of an ignition interlock device for a period of time. The penalties increase with each subsequent conviction.
Any vehicle offense filed as a misdemeanor or felony requires an experienced attorney to ensure the best possible result. Contact me today for a free confidential consultation regarding your vehicle offense.