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DUI/DWI charges give way to felonies against fleeing driver

It is not helpful for an accused driver to get drunk driving charges that involve hitting a pedestrian and other vehicles in the process. It is clearly much worse if the person who is hit is the on-duty police officer who pulled the operator over for suspected DUI/DWI. This type of scenario played out in Virginia Beach recently when an officer made a traffic stop on a vehicle for suspected drunk driving.

After the initial stop, the operator allegedly drove off, hitting the Virginia Beach police officer and injuring him. The absconding driver also reportedly hit a vehicle at a nearby intersection while escaping from the police stop. To further escalate the suspect's troubles, persons in the car that was hit were injured and treated by emergency responders.

The officer was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries that were not life-threatening. The operator of the suspect vehicle and his passengers exited the vehicle after crashing into the car. They ran from the scene on foot. The next day, the authorities arrested a 21-year-old male of Chesapeake. They charged him with numerous felonies, including hit and run -- personal injury, obstructing justice, identity fraud to avoid arrest and falsely identification to law enforcement.

The suspect is being held without bond. Under Virginia law, the punishment that he now faces on several felony charges is quite a bit more ominous than what he would have faced on a simple DUI/DWI charge. In fact, the drunk driving allegation was not filed because the accused made it virtually impossible for the authorities to prove that charge when he fled the scene and was not in custody until the next day. If the police reports are largely accurate, the suspect's criminal defense attorney will have a major task of mitigating and downplaying the alleged offenses. In such a case, contrition is best shown by the accused and negotiations are likely to be more fruitful if started at the earliest possible time.

Source: wtkr.com, "Suspect in Virginia Beach Police officer-involved hit and run arrested", Rachael Cardin, July 27,2017

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