It could have happened to anyone. You are pulling out of a crowded parking lot after a dinner out and dent another car’s bumper. You enjoyed an alcoholic drink or two while eating dinner, and now the other vehicle’s owner has called the police and accused you of drunk driving.
This type of situation is not uncommon and can lead to serious allegations of criminal wrongdoing. These cases generally unfold as follows:
#1: The accident.
The scenario occurs as above or possibly involves damage larger than a dent. The important part is no one was in the other vehicle, and there were no injuries. Regardless, someone calls the police, and they come to the scene.
#2: The police arrive.
The police may conduct a field sobriety test to gather evidence to support allegations of drunk driving. If successful they could move forward with an arrest.
#3: Criminal charges.
Here the details will vary. There are many different options depending on the situation. If this is a first offense and the evidence shows that you were barely over the legal limit, you could face jail time and a license suspension for up to one year. The charges are more serious if you have a criminal record or previous drunk driving convictions.
In a recent example, witnesses called police to the parking lot of a restaurant in Rochester after a vehicle hit multiple parked cars. The vehicle did not stop but continued out of the parking lot, driving through the neighborhood. Police arrived, found the car, and followed for a short distance before conducting a traffic stop. The police conducted field sobriety and breath tests; the driver failed both. Based on this evidence, witness testimony, and the three damaged vehicles, the state charged the driver with traffic violations and a 3rd degree DWI. The state has threatened to add hit-and-run charges because the driver left the scene after striking the parked vehicles.
#4: Build a defense.
Whether your situation is the same as either example noted above, a thorough defense strategy involves more than just a reaction to the criminal charges. It is important to review all possible angles. This can include looking at the validity of the traffic stop, how the police gathered evidence, and whether the charges are appropriate. An attorney experienced in this type of case can help to better ensure your rights are protected and look for ways to get a reduction or even dismissal of the charges.