When it comes to locating vehicles and drivers allegedly involved in hit-and-run accidents, police here in Nashville and elsewhere often rely on witness statements regarding the type of vehicle and/or a description of the driver. Officers canvass the area and might find a vehicle that appears to match the one witnesses described, but that does not mean they have actually found the culprit. Drivers are taken into custody and face charges that could include vehicular assault (if the victim lives) or vehicular homicide (if the victim dies), along with other charges such as DUI, if it appears to be appropriate.
For example, a 27-year-old man was taken into custody on a recent Saturday morning on suspicion of vehicular assault, reckless endangerment and DUI. Police found the man a few streets away from the scene of a hit-and-run that injured a pedestrian in the parking lot of a bar. Witnesses claimed that the person behind the wheel was driving erratically just prior to the incident, and they presumably provided officers with a description of the vehicle.
Even if the driver taken into custody appeared to be impaired, that does not necessarily mean that he was the driver involved in the hit-and-run. Prosecutors in the Martin area will need to prove that the suspect was the driver beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Until then, the man is entitled to be presumed innocent and is entitled to review all of the evidence gathered by investigators, including the statements from the witnesses.
An issue that will more than likely come up in this man's case is the reliability of the witnesses. As would be the case with anyone here in Nashville facing similar charges, this man has the right to confront any witnesses in court. The charges this man could face -- especially the vehicular assault charge -- carry serious penalties that could have far-reaching ramifications to his life. It would be in his best interest to speak with an attorney as soon as possible in order to preserve his rights and explore all of the options available to him in order to achieve the best outcome if he is formally charged.
Source: wbbjtv.com, "Martin police investigate bar parking lot hit and run", Victoria Taylor Martin, Nov. 12, 2016