DUI Accidents in California with Injury
Nobody wants to be involved in a car crash; they especially do not want to be held responsible for one. If a driver is found to be the cause of a car accident, their insurance rates will go up and they will likely suffer financially. If alcohol was involved, they will also be facing legal repercussions for a DUI accident.
When a driver is involved in accident and someone is injured, California police check the blood alcohol content (BAC) of all drivers involved. If a driver's BAC is found to be over the legal limit (.08%), they will be charged with DUI. The driver will also be charged with DUI if they test positive for drug intoxication. They also may be held responsible for the accident and injuries that were inflicted.
California's Vehicle Code Section 23153 VC states the following:
It is unlawful for a person, while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle and concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.
The consequences of this law are more serious than a regular DUI offense.Some 23153 VC violations can even be charged as felonies.
Penalties for a California DUI with Injury
There are a number of penalties that a person can face if they are convicted of causing injury due to driving under the influence. If a person is charged with a DUI causing injury, they will either receive a misdemeanor or felony charge. Felony charges are much more serious and a conviction can lead to years of imprisonment as well as license suspension and other serious consequences. A felony conviction will also appear on a person's criminal record and may cost them career or educational opportunities. Whether they are charged with a misdemeanor or felony will depend on their past criminal and driving record as well as the facts of the accident.
When an accident occurs and minor injury results, the driver will likely face increased penalties. The charge will only be a misdemeanor, so the penalties will be more than a regular DUI but less than a felony. The following penalties apply for drivers convicted of a misdemeanor offense:
- One to three years of license suspension
- Jail time of 5 days to one year
- Fines between $3920 and $5,000
- Informal probation for 3 to 5 years
- Enrollment in a California DUI education program for a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 30 months
- Restitution fees to injured parties
In cases where serious injuries or death occur, the charge is moved up to a felony. Felony offenses are the most serious crimes and can result in very long jail sentences and thousands of dollars in fines. The following penalties apply for felony DUI convictions:
- Jail time of up to 10 years. Additional years can be added to the sentence if more than one person was injured in the accident
- Between $1,015-$5,000 in fines
- Enrollment in a California DUI education program for a minimum of 18 months and a maximum of 30 months
- License revocation as a result of being labeled a Habitual Offender
If a death occurs, the driver will likely face charges for Vehicular Manslaughter instead of DUI under California's penal code section 191.5. The sentencing for this crime includes 4 to 10 years on prison or 15 to life if you have prior DUI convictions.
California DUI Injury Defense
In order to be convicted of violation vehicle section code 23153 VC, three factors must be present.
- The driver was intoxicated by drugs or alcohol
- The driver committed a driving error or neglected a duty while driving under the influence
- That error led directly to another person being injured
In order to defend a DUI with injury charge, an attorney can work to prove doubt to one of these factors. The most important thing in fighting a charge is to establish reasonable doubt. In a DUI injury case, the prosecution will try to prove that the driver's alcohol impairment was the reason for the accident and, therefore, the injury or injuries. An attorney can argue any of the following:
- The driver was not legally impaired and the accident was just an unfortunate mistake
- The driver did not make an error and the accident was caused by another driver or an outside force
- The injured person was hurt due to a reason other than the accident
Our lawyers have experience in all areas of California criminal defense law. Top rated attorney Troy Slaten is a partner at Floyd, Skeren & Kelly, LLP and the managing attorney of the criminal defense practice. He currently has a 10 rating on the legal review site Avvo.com and has the experienced and skills necessary to make sure our clients get great results. He also has received certification in field sobriety test instruction and on the use of a BAC measuring device that is often used by law enforcement. He can use this knowledge to question the validity of sobriety test results. That's why we work to get the charges reduced or dropped and we fight for ‘not guilty' verdicts. Call us now for a free DUI consultation.