Police officers in one of Georgia's northern counties arrived at a horrific scene last month. Officers discovered the body of 27-year-old Jose D. Ramirez Labra after an apparent hit-and-run. The driver had left the scene, abandoning his damaged motorcycle along with the victim of the accident on the side of the road.
Police were eventually able to track down the owner of the motorcycle, who then led them to the driver, 36-year-old David Castleberry.
Based on this information, police obtained warrants for:
- Second-degree homicide by vehicle,
- Removing or affixing a license plate,
- Not having insurance, etc.
This has resulted in a possible Habitual Violator status for Castleberry. Castleberry had previously been convicted of DUI, theft, and fleeing police, requiring him to serve multiple years in prison since 2004.
As a Georgia DUI Defense Lawyer, I have defended hit-and-run cases throughout the state and know that it is one of Georgia's most serious offenses.
Never Leave the Scene of an Accident
A charge of hit-and-run specifically refers to striking another occupied vehicle and then leaving the scene. Hit-and-run, leaving the scene of an accident, failing to report an accident, and striking a fixed object are all similar offenses. These grave offenses are treated as such and can have even harsher penalties than a DUI charge. For example, a driver charged with their first DUI may get a limited permit to drive to school or work. On the contrary, a driver convicted of hit-and-run often cannot even obtain a restricted permit and will face at least four-months of license suspension. If convicted for both DUI and hit-and-run, you will not qualify for any driver's license.
Additionally, if you are convicted of an offense that carries its own suspension along with the hit-and-run charge or you have prior offenses, you may be facing what is called a "hard suspension" of your license. This means that you will have no license or permit whatsoever. Along with these severe penalties, a hit-and-run conviction may also have devastating effects on your insurance.
Though the reality of a hit-and-run charge is very serious, there may still be hope. Pursuant to plea negotiations, our office has successfully achieved reductions of the charge to less serious offenses many times. Getting the charge of leaving the scene of an accident dropped or reduced is the difference between having your license and having your license suspended.
However, there are times where a police officer perceives an accident as a hit-and-run when it is actually just failing to report striking a fixed object. This results in an improper charge, which our attorneys are well-experienced in negotiation and mediation.
We know how terrifying it can be to get into an accident. Also how terrifying it can be to face an arrest. Yes, my advice is to never leave the scene of an accident, but mistakes do happen. We are here for you to get you the best possible results for your case.