DUI offense is a serious issue in California. However, DUI causing injury comes with an enhanced sentence once the court finds you guilty. The penalties for the offense include heavy fines and long jail terms. Thus if the law enforcement officers arrest you over DUI causing injury charge, you should seek legal help from a competent DUI attorney. Don’t attempt to defend the charges by yourself.
At Chula Vista Criminal Attorney, our attorneys have in-depth knowledge in handling all types of DUI crimes, including DUI causing injury. We have a long record of obtaining the best outcomes for our client’s cases in Chula Vista and its neighborhoods. We begin by investigating the situation of your case and then build a solid defense to challenge the prosecutor’s evidence. Call our lawyers immediately after your arrest, and we will help you fight the charges.
What is the Legal Meaning of DUI Causing Injury In California?
Under Vehicle code 23153, the law states the crime as controlling a vehicle while under the influence of drugs and the driving result in significant bodily injuries. The court may charge you with a misdemeanor or felony charge. Before you face conviction for the crime, the prosecutor must prove all the elements of the crime.
The Elements of DUI Causing an Injury
Every crime comes with its unique elements. The prosecution team must prove all the elements of the crime before you face conviction. DUI causing an injury has three main elements which the prosecutor must prove for you to face conviction. If the prosecutor fails to prove all the elements, the court will dismiss or reduce the charges. The elements are:
- Your unlawful or negligent behavior resulted in another person’s injuries.
- You broke California DUI laws.
- You violated another law, or your behavior was negligent.
How Do You Violate DUI Statutes?
You break DUI statutes by doing any of the following:
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol.
- You controlled a vehicle with a BAC reading of 0.08% for the noncommercial drivers or a BAC reading of 0.04% for the commercial drivers.
- You were operating a vehicle when under the influence of drugs.
- You were controlling a vehicle when under the influence of both drugs and alcohol.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol means you’re physically or mentally impaired or weak to the extent you cannot drive in a way a reasonable person would under similar situations. Remember, the drugs might be prescribed, over the counter, or illegal.
Your Behavior was Negligent
As per the state's laws, you face conviction for the crime when you violate another traffic law and drive while impaired. Thus it might be your negligence behavior that caused the alleged injuries. For example, James is tipsy and drives to his house after they had a party. As he drives, Alex rear-ends him and cuts his arm and head on the windscreen.
Thus, the district attorney may file DUI with an injury charge against James. But James' defense lawyer may argue a VC 23152 charge is appropriate since he did not cause the accident. However, if James was overspeeding while tipsy and rear-ended Alex, the district attorney will more likely file a DUI causing injury charge since:
- His speed led to him rear-end Alex, thus resulting in arm and head injuries.
- He was overspeeding while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
What Are The Potential Penalties for DUI Causing an Injury?
DUI causing an injury is a severe crime in California. The offense is a wobbler. Thus you will face a felony or misdemeanor charge. The charge will depend on your prior criminal record and the facts surrounding your case. It means you will face harsh penalties when you have prior felony convictions or the crime resulted in deaths or severe injuries. When a misdemeanor, the offense will attract the following sentences:
- Paying restitution fee to the alleged victim
- Paying a fine in the range between $390 and $5,000.
- Informal probation between 3 years and five years
- The court will order the suspension of your driving license for up to one year.
- Incarceration in a county jail for up to one year.
- Attend a compulsory DUI education program for three months, nine months, 18 months, and 30 months.
Alternatively, when a felony, the crime will attract the following penalties:
- Paying a fine ranging from $1,015 and $5,000
- The court will suspend your driving license for five years
- Incarceration in state prison for a period between 2 and 4 years
- You will attend a compulsory DUI education for between one and half years and two and half years.
Apart from the above penalties, the court may also order a probation term for five years. During the probation period, you will be expected to maintain a 0.00% BAC reading while driving. It means you should not even sip drugs or alcohol before you drive. Also, don’t engage in any other offense during the probation period. If you are arrested over a suspicious DUI causing injury while under probation, the law enforcement officers will require you to submit for a blood and breathalyzer test. The law officers aren't required to have probable cause for your pullover.
Lastly, the court may order you to attend counseling after a conviction for a felony or misdemeanor DUI causing injury. When your BAC was below 0.20%, the court may also order you to participate in an alcohol driving program for around 30 hours for three months. Alternatively, when you had a BAC reading above 0.20%, the court may order you to complete the drunk driving program for 60 hours in nine months. Failure to adhere to the probation terms may attract extra penalties. So, ensure you follow the terms and conditions of the probation to skip additional penalties.
What are the Sentence Enhancements to a DUI Causing Injury Conviction?
When the injuries resulting from the crime are severe, you are more likely to face enhanced penalties for the crime. Usually, the court determines the sentences based on the severity of the sustained injuries. That’s why you are always recommended you work with your DUI attorney to help you understand the California DUI laws. The enhanced penalties are:
- Extra 3 to 6 years of incarceration when the alleged victim suffered severe bodily injuries.
- An extra one point in your driving record.
- An additional one year of imprisonment for each person who sustained injuries.
- The court will be liable to you as a habitual traffic offender for a period not exceeding three years.
When the court levels all these enhancements against you, then the case is considered a felony. Also, these extra sentences will run alongside the initial incarceration in your case. It means, if you initially faced a sentence of 3 years plus another two years for the alleged victim who sustained an injury and one more year for another victim with less severe injury, your final incarceration will be six years. Thus this crime may attract an extensive jail term.
Remember, the state considers a driving license as a privilege and not your right. So, maintaining your driving license is determined by observing the traffic laws and abstaining from drinking and driving. When you have a series of DUI convictions, the court may apply for habitual traffic offender status against you. It means you will not be allowed to control a vehicle in any situation. Thus if you violate the law, you will face additional fines not exceeding $2,000 and remain behind bars for 180 days.
Can You Fight a VC 23153 Charge?
Facing a charge for VC 23153 doesn’t necessarily mean you will face conviction. The law allows you to defend yourself before the court. You will use the same approach to fight a DUI charge when fighting a DUI causing an injury charge. An aggressive DUI attorney will help you challenge the charge by exploring all the potential evidence to show you were not intoxicated or your BAC level was inaccurate. Also, they will evaluate and investigate all the blood or breath test procedures to ensure they were correctly performed and consider the mistakes they find for fighting the charge.
The attorney will also take other approaches when focusing on the injuries and the crash in general. The attorney will consider working with a reconstruction attorney to determine whether the alleged accident resulted in damages due to your negligent behavior. They will also consider other factors like weather conditions when the accident occurred, road conditions, witnesses, and any other relevant proof of the accident.
It’s essential you note, if the police arrive at the accident scene and find out you were drinking, they will assume you are at fault for the accident. The officers will compile a report based on their assumptions. After analyzing the facts surrounding the case, the DUI defense attorney may use the following defenses to fight the charge:
Inaccurate BAC Reading
Inaccurate BAC level is one of the common legal defenses for the crime. In a DUI case, chemical tests have limitations. A DUI attorney with experience in DUI cases may use these tests as a solid defense to fight the charge. Remember, the prosecution team must prove the elements of the crime before you face conviction. Based on the case's circumstance, your DUI attorney may poke holes in the prosecution team’s assertion about the BAC level during the accident time.
For instance, if you had a rising BAC, your DUI attorney will use it as a strong defense against the charge. As discussed above, the prosecutor must prove your BAC was above 0.08% at the time of the accident. It means the BAC is reading a long time after the accident is not lawfully germane. Your body takes time to metabolize the drugs or alcohol. Thus BAC won’t rise immediately after the intake. Also, it's possible that your BAC was below the legal reading of 0.08% during the accident but rises by the time you are administered the tests.
The blood test or breathalyzer was improperly administered, thus leading to inaccurate results. For instance, blood tests may show false results due to several substances, while the breathalyzer should be recalibrated after each use for accurate results. Remember, neither chemical test will have 100% accurate results, so your DUI defense attorney will be able to fight the charge.
Remember, the prosecution team may argue your ability to control a vehicle was impaired. Thus you will face a simple DUI charge under 23152(a). The law doesn’t necessarily require you to have a BAC reading higher than 0.08% at the time of the accident. Again, if the prosecutor doesn’t have circumstantial evidence, they may rely on evidence like bloodshot eyes, alcohol scent, or slurred speech. But your DUI attorney may challenge all the evidence. Ensure you work closely with your DUI attorney to help you gather more evidence to fight the charge.
You Did Not Cause Bodily Injury
You might be intoxicated at the time of the accident. However, the intoxication may not be the direct cause of the injuries. For example, if you engaged in a crash, and your DUI lawyer proves the accident resulted from poor road conditions, you will likely not face a DUI causing injury. But the court may convict you under VC 23152(b) or VC 23152(a) depending on your BAC level. For the best results, ensure you hire a competent DUI attorney to provide legal help when necessary. You may contact our Chula Vista Criminal Attorney, and we will help you fight the charge by arguing you didn’t cause bodily injury.
The Police Violated Your Rights During the Arrest
Your DUI attorney may argue the police officers violated your rights during the seizure and search. Thus the officers obtained the proof against you unlawfully. Also, you may argue the police did not have probable cause when pulling you, investigating, or arresting you for the crime. When the officers did not have reasonable suspicion to stop you, the court may consider the stop illegal. Again, when the police fail to read your Miranda right before your arrest, they may use that as a defense.
If the law enforcement officers violated any of your rights, your DUI attorney might request the court to hold a suppression hearing. The hearing will help you exclude the obtained proof, and your attorney will convince the judge to drop or reduce the charges. The VC 23153 charge may be reduced to VC 23152 charge.
You Were Not Operating a Vehicle When the Officers Arrested You
If you were in a vehicle while intoxicated and the district attorney failed to prove you were under the control of the car, then you will not face conviction for the crime. Your attorney may argue you were seated on the driver’s seat when the victim hit the vehicle, thus causing injuries. So, in this case, you will not be responsible for the accident. The judge will consider dropping the case.
Other Related Crimes to DUI With Injury
The crime may be charged alongside other related crimes. However, these crimes come with different penalties depending on several factors like the circumstance surrounding the crime and your criminal records. The following are the crimes related to DUI Causing an injury:
Child Endangerment - California CP 273(A)
In California, the crime of child endangerment occurs when:
- You willfully cause or place a child in a dangerous circumstance.
- You willfully cause a child to suffer injuries.
- You cause or permit a child to sustain mental suffering and physical pain.
The crime is a severe offense in California, and it attracts either felony or misdemeanor charges. When convicted as a misdemeanor, you will spend one year in county jail, while when convicted as a felony, you will remain behind bars in state prison for up to 6 years.
Can You Fight Child Endangerment Charges?
Since the penalties for the crime are severe, it's good you seek legal help from a competent criminal defense attorney. The attorney will examine your case and develop a solid defense to challenge the prosecutor’s evidence. The following are the legal defenses for the crime:
- You were falsely accused.
- You were mistaken for another person.
- Their parents coached the child to issue false information.
- You did not place the child in danger intentionally.
Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While DUI – California PC 191.5(a)
The crime involves illegally killing another person when driving a vehicle, whereby you violated traffic laws and the killing occurred due to your negligence. Gross negligence means you behaved recklessly, thus creating a risk of death or injury a reasonable person would otherwise not cause under a similar situation.
What the Prosecutor Must Prove in a Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While DUI
Before you face conviction for the crime, the prosecution team must prove the following elements of the crime:
- You were operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a BAC level above 0.08%
- Your negligence caused the death of the alleged victim.
- You were aged below 21 years at the accident, and your BAC level was above 0.05%.
- You engaged in unlawful acts or misdemeanors, which could lead to death with negligence.
- You were operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and you committed an infraction or misdemeanor, or illegal activities that could lead to the victim's death.
The Legal Penalties for Gross DUI Manslaughter
The crime is a felony offense in California. When convicted, you will remain in jail for a period between 4,6 or 10 years, pay a fine not exceeding $10,000, and serve formal probation. But if you have a prior conviction under VC 23152, VC 23153, 23152, you will face a sentence of 15 years in a state jail. The court also considers the crime as a strike under the three-strikes laws.
The legal Defenses for Gross DUI Vehicular Manslaughter
Your DUI attorney may help you fight the charge. Ensure to work with a skilled DUI attorney for the best outcomes of your case. The attorney will also guide you throughout the legal process. The attorney may use the following defenses to fight the charge:
- No gross negligent behavior
- Your gross negligence conduct did not result in the victim's death
- You were not intoxicated at the time of your arrest
Felony Hit and Run Causing Injury – California VC 20001
In California, you may face conviction for felony hit and run when you commit an accident, fail to stop, provide your information, or assist any victim requiring medical attention. The crime is a wobbler in California. So you will either face misdemeanor or felony charges. When convicted with a misdemeanor charge, you will pay a fine not exceeding $10,000, face summary probation and remain in a county jail for one year. When a felony, you will remain in a state jail for up to 4 years, serve formal probation and pay a fine not exceeding $10,000.
What the Prosecutor Must Prove
Before you face conviction for the crime, the prosecution team must prove all the elements of the crime. Failure to do so, you will not face conviction. The elements include:
- You committed an accident while driving
- The accident resulted in victims death or injuries
- You knew you engaged in an accident that caused death or injuries
- You failed to stop immediately after the accident, and you didn't even produce your details to the involved parties.
The Potential Defenses for Felony Hit and Run
With the legal help of your criminal defense attorney, you may fight the charge. The following are the potential defenses your criminal defense attorney may use to fight crime:
- Insufficient evidence.
- You waited and contacted the other party after the crash.
Contact a Chula Vista Criminal Attorney Near Me
Under California laws, DUI causing injury cases are not taken lightly. A conviction for the crime results in heavy fines, including loss of your driving privileges. That’s why you should seek legal help immediately after you have been charged with the offense. If the police arrest you in California, call our Chula Vista Criminal Attorneys as soon as possible. We will provide legal advice to ensure you don’t land into more trouble. Our attorneys are good in negotiation skills; thus, we will negotiate with the district attorney to drop or reduce the charges. Call us at 619-877-6894, and we will begin working on your case as soon as possible.