If you have lived in Los Angeles for any amount of time, let alone visited for more than a day, you know that LA has its fair share of cars and traffic. What you also probably know is that with that amount of traffic, Los Angeles’ hit-and-run incidents far exceed the national average. In fact, in 2009, 48% of crashes in Los Angeles were hit-and-runs, compared to a national rate of 11%.
ABC’s ’20/20′ ran a piece which focused on Los Angeles Police Department Detective Felix Padilla, who has been working in LAPD’s traffic division for over 10 years. Padilla told ABC that his division alone sees an average of 8,000 hit-and-run incidents a year and that in 2013, there have already been 16 fatal hit-and-runs incidents.
The problem for law enforcement in a hit-and-run investigation is that an arrest and prosecution hinge on eyewitness testimony and many do not want to cooperate with the police. Padilla talked about how the LAPD can impound the car during an investigation, but that doesn’t mean much if they don’t have the driver identified.
Another problem for the LAPD is Los Angeles’ large number of undocumented immigrant residents, many of whom drive a car even though they cannot legally obtain a license. If they get into an accident, many fear criminal prosecution and deportation and decide to flea the scene.
If you have been involved in a hit-and-run in Los Angeles, it is important that you contact an attorney before answering any questions by law enforcement or before you make any statements. Many times people are scared of what has happened and will try to “talk their way out” of getting arrested or charged with hit-and-run, which never happens and often leads to incriminating statements used in the incident report that prosecutors see. What you should do is allow your attorney to communicate with law enforcement on your behalf to not only avoid those pitfalls, but see if there is a way to avoid any charges being filed.
If misdemeanor hit-and-run charges do end up getting filed, it is important that you talk to your attorney about the possibility of a civil compromise or getting your hit-and-run charge reduced to a non-point traffic infraction. Many times your attorney can work with the victim outside of the courtroom to achieve these desired results and a reduction or dismissal of your criminal charges.
If you have been arrested or charged with a hit-and-run in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Downtown, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills or Burbank, contact attorney Ross Erlich 24/7 for a free consultation.