California DUI Law 23153 VC Explained

There are two DUI laws in California's vehicle code, section 23152 and section 23153. The more serious offense is 23153. This law is made up of six subsections labeled a through f.

California Vehicle Code, Section 23153(a)

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.

This subsection states that any driver who is under the influence of alcohol and makes an error that causes serious injury to another person will be charged with 23153. Under this subsection, a driver can have any amount of alcohol in their system as long as they are impaired. There is no legal limit under subsection (a, a driver with a BAC under 0.08 can still be charged with DUI. It will be up to the prosecution to prove that the suspect was impaired by the alcohol in their system which lead to the accident or other error.   California Vehicle Code, Section 23153(b)

It is unlawful for a person, while having 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood 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.

As opposed to subsection (a) which states that anyone impaired by alcohol can be charged with DUI if they cause injury due to their intoxication, subsection (b) states that anyone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more is automatically considered to be impaired. This means that a driver who causes injury to another person can be charged with 23153 VC if they have a BAC over the limit regardless of whether they were impaired by it.

California Vehicle Code, Section 23153(c)

In proving the person neglected any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, it is not necessary to prove that any specific section of this code was violated.

This subsection is very important because in order for a person to be charged with 23153 VC, they need to also make an error or commit another offense. This subsection states that the suspect does not have to commit an actual offense that is a violation of California's criminal code in order to be charged with this crime. Instead, it is left vague so that it can be open to interpretation. In most cases, the proof of the neglected duty is the accident that caused the injury.

For example, a driver has a BAC over 0.08 and hits a rock in the road that leads to their car hitting a tree and a passenger being injured. They will likely be charged with 23153 VC because the:

  1. Were under the influence
  2. Caused serious injury
  3. Committed an error (lost control of the vehicle)

California Vehicle Code, Section 23153(e) and (f)

(e) It is unlawful for a person, while under the influence of any drug, 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.

(f) It is unlawful for a person, while under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, 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.

These subsections are very similar to (a) and (b) expect that instead of alcohol, these subsections involve drugs and a combination of drugs or alcohol. Under California law VC 312, a drug is considered to be:

any substance or combination of substances, other than alcohol, which could so affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person as to impair, to an appreciable degree, his ability to drive a vehicle in the manner that an ordinarily prudent and cautious man, in full possession of his faculties, using reasonable care, would drive a similar vehicle under like conditions.

This definition is very broad and can include any drug whether it is illegal, prescription or even an over the counter drug as long as it is believed to impair a person's ability to drive.  Drug DUI charges are more complicated than alcohol because the tests that are used are not as sophisticated at testing for levels and when the drug was ingested.

23153 VC Penalties

A conviction for 23153 will lead to penalties that are more serious than those associated with a 23152 DUI conviction. Depending on factors such as criminal history, whether any aggravating factors were present and how many people were hurt, the charge can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor conviction can result in:

  • License suspension of 1 to 3 years
  • 5 days to 1 year of jail time
  • A fine of at least $390 but not more than $5,000
  • Informal probation for 3 to 5 years
  • Possible completion of 3 months, 18 months or 30 months of California DUI education
  • Restitution to be paid to injured parties

The more serious offense of felony can result in:

  • License revocation for 3 years or more
  • Habitual offender status
  • Up to 10 years of jail time
  • Additional jail time for additional injure parties
  • A fine of at least $1,015 but not more than $5,000
  • Informal probation for 3 to 5 years
  • Possible completion of 3 months, 18 months or 30 months of California DUI education
  • Restitution to be paid to injured parties
California DUI Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested for DUI and another individual was seriously injured, call our office right away. An experienced attorney will take you call and answer all of you questions. DUI with injury is one of the most serious DUI related offenses and can result in felony charges. Your best chance at beating these charges is to have superior legal representation. Call us now for a free consultation.

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California Defense Attorneys

Floyd, Skeren & Kelly, LLP is a criminal defense law firm serving Southern California. We represent clients who have been charged with DUI and other crimes that are looking for aggressive defense lawyers who can help them fight the charges they face. For more information, contact our firm today.