Driving under the influence is never a good idea. A mistake may destroy your life for good, and in some intricate situations, you may end up having a criminal record. You might be in a position whereby you were caught in violation of the DUI laws as well as being at fault of causing an accident that injured other road users. Having such claims against you, the prosecutor may consider charging you with felony crimes.
This is quite devastating; however, you can get in touch with The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney to guide you through the criminal defense process. Our competent and qualified legal representatives will clarify the claims against you as well as build a credible defense strategy that will seek to overcome the prosecutor’s case to protect you from wrongful convictions.
What is DUI Causing Injury Under the Law?
Unlike many other state laws, the DUI causing injury is a separate kind of offense from the prevalent DUI violation. It is a distinct kind of driving under the influence case that is embodied under California's Vehicle Code section 23153. It is essential to note down that a DUI causing injury crime is more likely to be handled as an aggravating factor in the case.
Under the California Vehicle Code Section 23153(a), you are found to be in violation of DUI causing injury if you were driving a car while under the influence of intoxicating substances and, in the process, ended up being in breach of the law by acting negligently thus resulting in physical injury to any individual other than yourself. The law further delves into detail in section (b), whereby it denotes that the accused defendant must be proven to have been under the influence.
It further explains under California Vehicle Code Section 23153(b), that once a defendant has been apprehended and tested positive for having a blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more above the authorized limit, then he or she will be held liable for the violation. However, for such a claim to be levied against you, the law requires the prosecutor to prove that you were operating the means of transportation while having a blood alcohol content level of 0.08% or higher. With this information, the prosecutor will be able to determine the level at which to prosecute you. That is either a misdemeanor or a felony crime.
How Does The Prosecutor Prove That You Are Guilty Of The Claims?
As illustrated earlier, the California Vehicle Code engrosses certain conditions that are eligible to subject you to the claims of DUI causing injury. However, for the judge to convict you of the charges, certain things must be proven by the prosecutor of the case. We will discuss the three essential elements of the crime below.
You broke the laws by acting out of negligence
Pursuant to California Vehicle Code, section 23153, you are subject to a conviction or violation of the rules if you have broken the law by operating a means of transportation under the influence of an intoxicating substance and acting in a manner that shows total negligence resulting in injury to other persons. The prosecution will look at the flow of how the events transpired to file a case against you. However, having a qualified criminal defense attorney by your side, you will be able to navigate through and beat the prosecutor's case. On the other hand, you may end up with lighter penalties of misdemeanor aside from the harsh felony crimes.
You violated the DUI laws
DUI means driving under the influence. You must have been apprehended by a law enforcement officer operating a motor vehicle or any means of transport while under the influence of intoxicating substances. These substances may be drugs, alcohol, controlled substances, or all of the above. The police that apprehended you must ensure that you were behind the wheel at the time of arrest or in some way; you had the capacity of operating the vehicle indirectly via the designated driver.
You are also likely to violate California DUI laws if you were caught behind the wheels with an alcohol content level that is equivalent to or higher than the authorized limit. For the case of a commercial driver, the legal limit of BAC should not surpass 0.04 percent, whereas, for minors under the age of 21, the BAC levels should not exceed 0.02 percent. The prosecutor must prove that you were the cause of the accident.
Prove that you had a BAC level higher than the authorized limit, or that you were driving under the influence
Under California's Driving Under the Influence Act, you are considered to be violating the "per se" law if you are caught by the law enforcement team driving or operating an automobile with a BAC of 0.08 percent or more. If you are caught with an alcoholic limit that is equivalent to or more than the legal limit set in place, then you shall be held guilty of breaking the laws. This presumption of containing such content levels of alcohol in the bloodstream means that your level of judgment might be impaired.
A violation of the DUI laws also automates a violation of California Vehicle Code 23153. Remember that this is in spite of the substance used, which includes drugs, controlled substances, or alcoholic beverages. Aside from the blood alcohol concentration levels, the prosecutor may opt to prove if you were indeed driving under the influence during the arrest. If you were apprehended for violating the DUI laws causing injury, it means that your ability to make decisions and coordination of the road were impaired during the time of the incident.
DUI Causing Injury Caused By Commercial Drivers
Most commercial drivers operate large and heavy vehicles like buses, trucks just to mention but a few. A DUI violation by the commercial operator may cause disastrous damage to property as well as catastrophic injuries to other road users. According to DUI laws, commercial drivers are highly restricted from using intoxicating substances. Unlike the average BAC of 0.08 percent, they are required not to surpass a BAC of 0.04%. Thus, if a commercial driver is caught behind the wheel with a BAC level above the legal requirement, then this shall be treated as an act of negligence by the operator.
California Vehicle Code Section 23153 (d) relates to commercial operators alleged to have violated DUI laws and at the same time, caused injury and damage to other persons. The law stipulates that, while the commercial operator is on duty and is found to have a BAC of 0.04% or more, he/she is liable for the damages caused. The elements of this crime are more or less similar to a regular driver surpassing the 0.08 percent level. For this reason, the commercial driver will be liable for infringement of California Vehicle Code section 23153(d) and may be charged either as a misdemeanor or as a felony offense.
Penalties for the Crime of DUI Causing Injury
Facing charges of DUI causing injury is harsh. Given the fact that it might be handled as an aggravating violation, based on various factors, it is likely to have dire repercussions on you. If you had a job, it would be hard to maintain it due to the criminal record. You may also find it hard to get employment due to your files. Therefore, if you or a loved one faces criminal charges of a DUI causing injury, you need to contact a criminal defense attorney without delay to avoid having to register a criminal record and protect your rights.
Unlike many other states, California laws are known for being stringent. Therefore, for you to be convicted of DUI Causing Injury, the prosecutor needs to prove some aspects, as illustrated above. A DUI case is usually handled as a 'wobbler,' meaning that you may either be convicted for felony crimes or misdemeanor.
- A First Time Conviction
If you're found guilty of the violation and it was your first offense, the law grants the prosecutor the power to charge you either as a misdemeanor or as a felony. The misdemeanor conviction is known to be less severe, whereas a felony prosecution is denoted as a more severe charge. For a misdemeanor conviction, you are likely to serve time in a State county jail for a period ranging between 90 to 365 days. In addition to serving time in jail, you are likely to pay fines summing up to not more than $2,000. You also suffer the risk of having your driving privileges suspended for one year. Sometimes the judge may subject you to a DUI rehabilitation program based on the severity of your case.
In case you get a felony charge, you may end up serving imprisonment time at the State county prison for a period of up to 3 years. However, it is not always common. You, therefore, need to affirm the services of a proficient criminal defense attorney that is well conversant in the field. Your experienced Criminal Defense Attorney may argue your claims to avoid a felony charge. Fortunately, if the court agrees to the arguments raised, you might be granted probation. You will be required by law to comply with the following terms and conditions:
- You are entitled to serve a probation term ranging between 3 to 5 years
- A requirement that you shall not in any way get involved in any unlawful activity
- You shall not possess, own or use any deadly or hazardous weapon
- You shall at all times submit to the court and any other institution required by law your actual names and date of birth
- You shall always have your valid government identification document in every place you visit
- You shall not operate or drive a car while intoxicated
- In the event that you are caught in violation of the California Vehicle Code, you must submit a blood, urine, or breathing chemical examination to help verify your blood alcohol content level
- Second Time Conviction
A second violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23153 within ten years prior to the first offense is likely to attract hefty penalties. The charges will still be wobbling. If you happen to be charged as a misdemeanor, you are likely to face imprisonment serving time in a county penitentiary for a period ranging between four months to a year. The charges also come hand in hand with payment of fines summing up to $5,000. You are also inclined to have your driving license revoked for a maximum of three years.
On the other hand, a felony charge for a second-time offender will be serving imprisonment time for three years in a State prison. For a case whereby you get probation, you are subjected to either one of the two options:
- Option One
Get confined in a county jail for at least four months, along with payment of fines not more than $5,000. Also, you risk losing your driving privileges as the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will revoke it for three years
- Option Two
You must be confined in a county jail for a period ranging from 30 days to 364 days, along with paying a fine valued not more than $2,000. You will also have your driving privileges revoked by the local Department of Motor Vehicles. Aside from these, you must either choose to enroll and take part in a Driving Under the Influence program for at least 18 months; or 30 months, depending on the court ruling.
- A Third Time Conviction
This involves a conviction of a third or subsequent offense within ten years of the prior offenses. The penalties are more likely to be significant from previous sentences. You are liable for serving imprisonment in a State prison for four years. Additionally, you are likely to pay fines that amount up to $5,000, along with having a revocation of your driver's license for five years. The cancellation of the driver's license is usually made by the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Under California Vehicle Code Section 23153, you will be charged as a habitual traffic lawbreaker for a period of three years, consequent to the conviction.
The penalties will also note the body count. The more the number of injured parties, the harsher the charges will be. A case whereby the number of wounded persons is more than one, then a felony charge sentence will increase by one year for each additional injured victim. Unfortunately, if you happened to cause the death of another person while driving under intoxication, you may be convicted for vehicular manslaughter.
Common Defenses for A DUI Causing Injury Charge
A DUI causing injury case is more or less similar to a regular DUI charge. Due to this fact, your criminal defense attorney may navigate through the criminal justice process to formulate a credible defense strategy that proves that you were not driving under the influence. Like any other DUI violation, the defense may begin with the same approach. It may seem difficult to you evading such a case inclusive of the aggravating factors. However, your credible and skilled criminal defense attorney may tackle this situation using the following defense strategies of a DUI causing injury violation.
The validity of the breathalyzer kits
A breathalyzer is a kit used by the law enforcement team to gather samples of the accused drivers to check whether they are fit and sober to operate on roads. The equipment is usually known to have defects due to maintenance, as well as releasing inaccurate results. Therefore, it is required that the breathalyzers are thoroughly tested and serviced before hitting the roads.
For this reason, your experienced Criminal Defense Attorney may challenge the prosecutor to prove that the breathalyzer kits were tested and accurate at the time of the arrest. This information is usually provided by the state. The information provided states the date in which the equipment was tested as well as the calibration results. Failure to provide such records may disqualify the results gathered as evidence against you. On such an occasion, the court may render the evidence inadmissible against your case.
The physical condition of the defendant
Blood alcohol concentration tests may provide inaccurate results in a situation whereby you have a physical health problem. For instance, symptoms such as diabetes may show some traces of alcohol content in your bloodstream as a result of blood glucose fermentation. Some defendants may also seem to be drowsy due to the ailing conditions which may deceive the law authorities. Therefore in such a scenario, your criminal defense attorney may argue that your physical conditions may have caused imprecision in the readings, thereby disqualifying the allegations that you were driving under the influence. Such evidence may not be used before the courts to convict you of the alleged violations.
Poor Weather Conditions
Some accidents occur due to poor weather conditions. In such situations, your skilled Criminal Defense Attorney may argue that the poor weather conditions interfered with your visibility, hence leading to the accident. Since it was not in your position to control the adverse weather conditions, you did not in any way intend to cause harm to the other victims. Having such factors in mind, the prosecutor may try to reduce the charges against you.
Poor conditions of the road
Another significant cause of road accidents is poor road conditions. A situation may arise whereby the road was slippery and caused the vehicle to lose control, thereby hitting other motorists and road users. Your attorney may argue with the prosecutor about the state of the road and its effect on the damages caused. Due to the poor conditions of the roadway, the defendant was not able to control the vehicle that led to its ramming into other motorists and pedestrians.
Other Crimes Related To DUI Causing Injury
Aside from DUI causing injury, there are various offenses that you can be charged with that are similar to the subject matter. Below are some common examples;
Hit and Run
After a hit and run car crash, you are likely to be charged with a California Vehicle Code 20001 hit and run offense that could cause someone else's injury or death. The two crimes have similar requirements as well as liability. Such a violation may be cataloged as a hit and run if you;
- Fail to stop and offer reasonable assistance to the injured person that requires urgent medical attention
- Fail to halt and provide your information
Vehicular Manslaughter while under the influence
Under the Penal Code 191.5 of Vehicular manslaughter while under the influence, you can be charged with acting out of negligence that led to the breaking of the law, hence ending the lives of other persons. This is a more severe offense than a DUI causing injury violation.
This involves driving under the influence of intoxicating substances while children are on board, thereby putting their lives at risk. This is a felony charge. Consequently, the prosecutor may charge you on the violation based on the Penal Code 273 of Child Endangerment. If you happen to fall guilty of the allegations, you are likely to serve imprisonment in a State prison for a maximum period of six years.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
If you or a loved one has been convicted of DUI causing injury or any other related DUI offense, you must contact The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney's Office without delay. We comprehend the sensitive nature of this crime, how best to protect you, and how to resolve your case without facing harsh sentences. Our team of legal professionals has extensive knowledge of the law and the legal system. Please feel free to contact us by phone at 310-564-2605 for free consultation and assistance on your case. We will strive to ensure that your rights are protected at all times.