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I think it's sad that alcohol has become the single factor that determines whether prosecutors pursue charges.

So sad. I know it was early in the morning, but I used to commute just up from there to Forbes and Rt. 50, and I hated that part of the bike ride. No infrastructure, very fast drivers, and lots of traffic. Having used trails and lanes for so long now, I don't think I'd bike out there again. That area desperately needs infrastructure and traffic calming.

Mike, that's not entirely true. This is coming in a future post, but of the 13 cases where the driver was charged (that I know of), only 6 of those involved alcohol. In one it wasn't the driver who was drinking, but the teenage driver's father. In another, the driver's blood alcohol was below the limit, so there was no drunk driving charge.

But there was also a case where the driver would have likely been charged had they not died.

Hit-and-run seems likely to bring some charge. Probably less severe than homicide while DUI. A good lawyer will suggest many plausible reasons for a motorist not stopping.

If you haven't been drinking then staying on the scene is likely to bring little penalty no matter how egregious your driving behavior was.

...If you haven't been drinking, don't have illegal drugs or weapons in your vehicle, don't have outstanding warrants or financial judgments, are not an illegal immigrant, have insurance and a valid license and registration, etc., etc.

Hmm... cases like this suggest that the punishments are out of order. Shouldn't hit-and-run be considered more egregious than DUI, and carry stiffer penalties? Why should we incentivize fleeing the scene?

They both seem to be treated about equally. The harshest sentences ranked in order were for.

1. DWI & Hit and run - 8 years
2. DWI & hit and run (though no plea on the latter) - 5 years
3. Hit and run - 4 years
4. Vehicular Manslaughter due to excessive speed - 3 years
5. Hit and run - 1 year


1. DWI & Hit and run - 8 years
2. Vehicular Manslaughter due to excessive speed - 7 years
3. DWI & hit and run (though no plea on the latter) - 5 years
4. Hit and run - 4 years
5. Hit and run - 1 year

With hit and run some defense can be mounted and charges avoided or reduced.

I think there is less opportunity for that following a death with DUI.

So its less about what's statutorily on the books and more on how the legal process plays out.

Yup, hit & run you get to claim the "didn't see anything" excuse. And you get to play the odds on not getting caught at all.

More numbers! Of 19 area hit and runs since 1987, 9 people were never caught; 4 others were caught and convicted; 2 self reported (so they may have not been caught) and were convicted; 1 was not charged; and 3 may have been charged but there is no record of it (though one was also driving drunk and thus likely was charged).

So driving away gives you a better than 50% of getting away with it, but if you self-report or get caught, you will likely be prosecuted.

Very disturbing data, but not surprising. It would be an easy matter to put molecular markers in car paint or components, which could greatly narrow the search after hit and run.

Thanks for the numbers, washcycle! With the high getaway rate, it really underscores the need to come down hard on those people who are actually caught. I suppose this should depend on the severity of the damage. Fleeing from a scratched bumper in a parking lot is incomparable to leaving a pedestrian on the side of the road to die.

19 over 27 years seems very low. So I have a couple of questions. Does this only include H&R involving a bicycle? How about pedestrians? Also, how are you defining "area"?

Bicyclists only, over the WAMPA area plus Fairfax County.

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