More Hit and Runs? What’s Going on Here in North Texas?

HR-2-150x150Apparently local drunk drivers still haven’t gotten the memo that fleeing a car wreck is a bad idea, especially here in the Dallas Fort Worth area.

Intoxication is one of the biggest reasons drivers speed off from the scene of a crash. They seem to believe they will not get caught, and if they do, they won’t get a DWI conviction.

Where this assumption might have been true in the past, police now have ever better tools for tracking down and arresting hit-and-run drivers. Cameras and cell phones that produce higher resolution images are everywhere. Law enforcement has better technology and techniques for identifying vehicles through paint splotches and auto parts inevitably left behind at the crash scene.HR4-150x150

And social media spreads the word quickly to witnesses. We just contacted several critical eyewitnesses thanks to photos posted by a local TV station to its website.  Here are two photos of my client’s cars in hit-and-run cases I’ve handled recently.

Yes, some hit-and-run drivers do get away with it. But at least those who are arrested face harsher penalties than drunk drivers.

This was not always the case. In the past, an intoxicated driver who seriously or fatally injured somebody might flee and lay low until he sobered up. If he were subsequently convicted of a hit-and-run, he would get a slap on the wrist.

Texas lawmakers passed a sensible hit-and-run law in 2013 that increase the penalties to do away with the incentive for drunk drivers to take off.

Three fatal hit and runs in one day — alcohol likely involved

North Texas police departments were busy investigating three separate fatal hit-and-run collisions within hours of one another two weeks ago. First, a 27 year-old man fled on foot after running a red light and killing the driver of the car he ran into. A pedestrian saw the hit-and-run driver’s wrecked vehicle with the horn blaring and windshield wipers still swishing. When he opened the pickup truck’s door, liquor bottles poured out. The driver later turned up at a convenience store and was arrested.

At 6:45 a.m. that same morning, a Duncanville woman was killed when a driver crashed into her car near the I-20 Polk Street overpass  After a driver hit her from behind, she lost control of her Mazda and careened into the overpass pillar. The driver who ran into the woman sped off, most likely drunk after drinking all Saturday night and Sunday morning. Police are now on the lookout for a tan Toyota Tundra with a broken headlight and missing bumper parts that were left behind at the scene.

Then police discovered a victim’s body lying in the median on I-35 in Denton. Police believe the 20 year-old man was walking along the highway during the night when the car slammed into him and took off.

Hit-and-Run Collisions Kill 1,500 Each Year

58 percent of fatal hit-and-run collisions happen on the weekend and 47 percent happen between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. — the prime drinking hours. Unsurprisingly, 60 percent of the victims killed in hit-and-runs were pedestrians, which tend to be easier to flee from.

It is unimaginable to leave a person to die in the hopes of evading justice. Yet every year, a shocking 1,500 people are killed in hit-and-run crashes. In a crash in North Dallas, the intoxicated driver even opened up the door of the car she crashed into, saw the woman she had killed, then got back into her car and drove away.

Considering that a driver leaves the scene so often, a personal injury lawyer ends up representing many victims of hit-and-runs. I always hope the criminal is arrested and prosecuted so that criminal justice is served. But even when the hit-and-run driver is not caught, I am usually able to recover damages with a comprehensive insurance claim or civil lawsuit and also reduce medical bills to get my clients the compensation they deserve.

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