Vista DUI Attorney Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm that is based in Vista, CA. The law firm has attorneys that have expertise in defending charges such as driving under influence among other related charges. Driving under influence refers to a situation where a driver drives under intoxicants such as alcohol or other drugs. The penalties issued after a DUI charge depends on the circumstances under which the accused was arrested, that is, the nature of the injury caused on the victim, the accused DUI criminal history, and the number of charges at hand. Therefore, it is crucial for you as the accused to seek the defense of our attorneys. They will argue on your DUI Causing Injury defense and help reduce the number of charges pressed on you by the prosecution.
Legal Definition of DUI in California
The California section 23152 (a) of Vehicle Codes describes driving under influence (DUI) as operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicants such as drugs and alcohol. The amount of alcohol present in your body would be tested by the use of blood alcohol content (BAC) and/or any other chemical test. If the results of the test amounts to 0.08%, it is considered that you are committing a driving crime under the above statute. Therefore, every driver should be aware of the dangers associated with driving under the influence of intoxicants.
Incidents arising from DUIs causing injuries can be misdemeanors or felonies. Misdemeanor (minor injuries) offenses of DUI arise when the injuries caused are not serious. These injuries can be small bruises on the victim without aggravating factors such as lack of remorse and recidivism. A DUI causing serious injuries is categorized as felony DUI (serious injuries). These injuries are evident and in most cases, the accused is needed to restitute the victim by paying their hospital and medication bills.
Instances of DUI Causing Injury
Several charges depending on the amount of intoxicant present in the accused bloodstream can be prosecuted as DUI in California law. Some of these charges include;
1. Driving under influence of drugs causing injuries
Under California vehicle codes 23152 (a), this is an incident of DUI where the accused is found to be driving under the influence of drugs. This is illegal in California because it might lead to impaired driving that consequentially causes accidents resulting in injuries to persons. One is charged with DUI drugs causing injuries for such an offense in California.
2. DUI with a minor passenger causing injuries
A minor is anyone below the age of 18 years in California. If the accused under the influence of either a drug or alcohol causes an accident which in return causes injuries to other persons other than the accused, the prosecution would prove that it is indeed a DUI causing injuries under California vehicle codes 23152. The involvement of minors is considered an aggravating factor and charged as a severe/felony drunk-driving crime.
Categories of Drunk-driving Causing Injuries – Misdemeanor and Felony DUIs
Driving under influence (DUI) causing injuries can be categorized as either misdemeanor DUI or felony DUI. Accidents that are as a result of DUI causing small or insignificant injuries are referred to as simple or misdemeanor DUI. For instance, the accused collides with another vehicle but no injuries are evident on the victim apart from some minor bruises on his elbow. This is charged as simple DUI causing injuries and the penalties imposed ranging from half a year to a year imprisonment in county jail. The convict would be fined an amount not surpassing 5000 dollars and not below 390 dollars. Also, a period not exceeding 30 months in a DUI school would be implemented. The penalties are dependent on whether the DUI conviction is the first, second, or third.
When multiple simple DUI convictions up to the third time occur, if convicted for the fourth consecutive time (within a ten-year period), the offense shall fall under serious or felony DUIs. Notwithstanding the above incidence, a person could be charged as felony DUI if the said person perpetrates an accident while drunk-driving and that he/she holds a prior felony conviction; this requirement (as per PEN 23153) holds regardless of whether the act was characterized by elements that would otherwise lead to a misdemeanor conviction.
In felony cases, injuries are mostly evident. They include: broken body parts, profuse bleeding, and/or dislocations of body parts. The consequences for felony DUIs are severe in that the accused would face 3 years imprisonment in state jail with a couple of fines, a 4-year license suspension and a period not exceeding 30 months in a DUI school.
In addition, a first time DUI is punishable for three to five years with a license suspension of up to six months. After a DUI arrest, your license is automatically suspended by the DMV. Prosecution can charge the accused for a first time DUI if injuries are involved. Similarly, for non-California citizens charged with DUI causing injuries, it is termed as out of state DUI. Such cases undergo the same prosecution procedures and same penalties issued after judgment.
California vehicle code 23136 states that it is illegal for a person under the age of 21 years to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC exceeding 0.01%. Such an offense is termed as underage DUI and can lead to a suspension of drivers' license. If the driver does not have a license as required by the law, then the court bans and denies one from applying for a license for one year. The circumstances surrounding the arrest could lead the driver facing traditional DUI penalties as well as high amounts of fines. In most cases, underage DUI causing injuries is termed as a misdemeanor in California.
Related Charges to DUI with Injury
In relation to DUI injury charges under vehicle code 23153, there is vehicle penal code 191.5 vehicular manslaughter. As per the above codes, while intoxicated, you can be charged for manslaughter if your actions violated the law or caused death to another person and/or commit an action that aims at causing injury or death to another person.
California section 20001 of vehicle laws, felony hit and run involving injury, is another close crime to DUI leading to injuries. You will be convicted for a DUI hit and run if you don’t stop after the accident or fail to offer the required help to the injured person like medication.
Finally, California PEN 273 child endangerment is another common offense. If you engage in an act that would cause a child to incur body or mental injuries (or death), then you would be violating the above codes. Furthermore, if the action is triggered by driving while drunk, you are likely to face further charges and a felony conviction.
Section 23152[a] states that a DUI is a misdemeanor if the driver was driving under the influence of intoxicants causing minor injuries to persons other than him. Section 23152[b] states that it is also a misdemeanor to drive with a Blood-alcohol concentration [BAC] of greater than 0.08%.
In most cases, both charges apply for section A and B. Although only one party is charged for driving under the influence as the law requires under DUI offenses. Vehicle code section 23153 paves for a felony DUI where there are injuries resulting from the drunk driving. In addition, penal code section 191.5 and 192 describe and point out the offense of vehicular manslaughter where there are fatal accidents.
Penalties for California DUI Causing Injury
When driving under influence of intoxicants causing injuries to a person other than the driver, the driver would face charges for DUI causing injury in a California law court. The same charges apply depending on the circumstances of the case during arrest as well as the driver’s criminal history. Also, the driver will face similar DUI charges if his/her actions were as a result of negligence or violated any driving law while drunk. More so, if the prosecution proves that the driver had at least 0.08% BAC, the driver will be violating section 23153 (b) of Vehicle Codes, and charged under this statute.
The penalties for this offense depend on how many cases the accused has prior the conviction. Penalties do increase in cases of more than three prior convictions of any drunk-driving offense. As a misdemeanor these penalties apply to the convict:
- A fine ranging from 390 dollars to 5000 dollars
- An alcohol program imposed by the court of three, nine, eighteen, or thirty months.
- A county jail imprisonment of between five days and a year.
- Three to five years in a DUI School.
- Restitution to victims.
A felony DUI, due to multiple DUI convictions under CVC 23153, has DUI penalties worse than a misdemeanor DUI with an injury. They include:
- Fines between 1000 dollars and 5000 dollars;
- Attendance of DUI school for a maximum of 30 months;
- Imprisonment for two to four years in the state prison;
- An additional one-year in prison for any injury suffered;
- The DMV can revoke driving privilege for 5 years;
- Three years as a habitual traffic offender status.
Defenses against DUI with Injury
The DUI attorney can argue that the driver was not under any influence of intoxicants or drugs. The attorney can also refute the accuracy of the BAC tests; for instance, if the field officers in charge of the test didn’t follow correct procedures for performing the tests.
The attorney can as well claim that the unlawful and illegal actions that you portrayed were not the main cause of the injury. The court can decide to have experts who can determine whether natural factors such as harsh weather conditions or the poor state of roads led to the cause of the injury.
The defense attorney can also argue out that the driver was trying to avoid causing a more serious accident that is why he/she caused the present crime. For instance, the accused reaches a roundabout and realizes that another passenger vehicle with more than 54 people in it is about to collide with his vehicle. In order to save the 54 people, he drives into a parked car along the road, causing injuries to the driver who was making a call. In this way, the driver had no other options and what he was trying to avoid was more serious than the potential harm caused by DUI.
In another perspective, the attorney can bring out the sense that the defendant drove in order to avoid serious injury or death hence he/she was doing so under duress. Meaning it was not their fault but it was under threats from a particular party and had to do so to satisfy their demands. For example, someone might have forced the intoxicated person to drive by use of force and fear.
When an officer encourages a motorist to become intoxicated or drive under influence, then this is referred to as entrapment. The defendant must prove beyond reasonable doubt that he/she would not have been enticed to drive while knowing he was drunk if not for the alleged entrapment. This would help the court draw conclusions regarding the administration of justice.
If the driver is honest that he is not intoxicated and that the senses are normal, for instance having a better reason to believe that the impairing effect of one's health status varies when exposed to certain situational conditions, can earn defense in a court of law with an aim to ensuring that the prosecutors believe in your evidence pertaining to a DUI causing injuries.
Another common defense that the defendant can argue out in the accused favor is involuntary intoxication. With the support of the attorneys, one can provide instances where the action took place. For example, one can say that it was at a party where he/she took a drink that was intoxicated without the knowledge that it was intoxicated leading to DUI causing injury. These are the most common defenses under California DUI causing injury that facilitate and aid in presenting one's grievances in a court of law for a free and fair dispensation of justice.
Elements of Great Bodily Injury
At times great bodily harm might occur under any accident caused by driving under influence of drugs. These bodily injuries refer to the physical injuries and not the emotional or spiritual injuries. Major traumas such as brain damage or paralysis are the common instances of bodily injuries. However, the injury does not have to be permanent for it to be considered great or severe.
n most cases, prosecutors must come up with a ruling determined and based on a number of factors to prove that an offense led to great bodily injury: (a) The severity of the injury; (a) The resulting pain from the injury; (a) The required medication that the victim is in need of.
Legal Consequences Associated with Great Bodily Injury [GBI]
The California laws require that the sentencing of such related offenses be administered under consideration of such prior DUI crimes as the use of guns and gang crimes to administer crimes. The prosecutors must determine what qualifies for an offense to be termed great bodily injury. The California penal code refers to it as a physical injury which covers a broad area and this is left in the decisions of prosecutors to decide and make a ruling.
The conviction for great bodily injury is followed by enhancements of 3 to 6 years in a California state prison. This applies to anyone who causes GBI under influence causing a felony DUI. It adds 3 to 6 years to the defendant who will be sentenced for a felony DUI. There are harsher enhancements when GBI results to shooting a firearm from a car. This can be well illustrated by a drive-by shooting and in such a case, the enhancement can be 5,6, or 10 years. This can be limited to cases where it is proven that the defendant had the intention to cause great bodily injury or deaths.
The 3 to 6-year enhancement is an addition to the sentence you receive most probably for the cause of the underlying offense. Whether you receive the additional years, it depends on the age of the victim, the severity of the injury and the circumstances of the committed offense. It should be noted that cases involving a victim who is a senior over the age of 70 or under 5 years receive harsh treatments in a court of law. These are similar to cases relating to domestic violence, the sentences are also unfavorable as per the charges filed.
Finding a Vista DUI Attorney Near Me
For one to successfully succeed in a case relating to DUI causing injury in California, they need experienced attorneys. At Vista DUI Attorney Law Firm, we have the criminal defense attorneys for any DUI charge you might face. Reach us by phone at 760-691-1540. We are available to help craft an effective defense after evaluating the circumstances of your case. Give us a call today!