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Officials blame alcohol for many hit-and-runs in New Orleans

It seems that a considerable portion of fatal traffic accidents in New Orleans are hit-and-run situations. The Department of Transportation reported the average percentage of fatal accidents dubbed hit-and-run falls somewhere between 3.5 and 4.5 percent. In New Orleans, though, over the past three years, about 18 percent of fatal accidents have been deemed hit-and-run situations. This year alone, the city has seen six fatal accidents that involved a driver fleeing the scene of the crash. In total, there have been 31 deadly crashes this year so far.

Other cities throughout the state of Louisiana do not have the same problem. Although Baton Rouge did not report figures, police from St. Tammany and Jefferson parishes reported their hit-and-runs accounted for far fewer than those in New Orleans. In St. Tammany Parish, only two of the 75 fatal crashes since 2010 have involved a driver who fled the scene. In Jefferson Parish, there have only been three hit-and-run cases out of 44 fatal crashes since 2009. The Louisiana State Police reported that the rate of hit-and-run incidents in the state as a whole has been somewhere between 4.6 and 6.2 percent over the past five years.

Why does New Orleans have such a higher rate? Officials believe alcohol may be to blame and that a number of these individuals are drinking and driving when they are involved in an accident. Authorities believe that heavy punishments for causing a crash while drinking and driving may be causing people to flee from the scene, even if someone has been severely injured. By leaving the scene, a driver may avoid being charged with alcohol-related crimes and a fatal hit-and-run carries less time in prison than a fatal drunk-driving accident. In order to make up for this, officials have been charging individuals with more severe crimes and may be stretching the law to do so, according to some experts.

If you have been accused of drinking and driving or any sort of crime, speak with a defense attorney about your case before going to court. These professionals will ensure your rights are protected and will work diligently to build a strong defense in your case.

Source: The Advocate, "Fatal hit-and-run accidents common in N.O." Claire Galofaro, Jul. 24, 2013

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