California motorists who drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs face further serious criminal charges if they also cause injury. In these situations, drivers may be charged with driving under the influence causing injury under California Vehicle Code § 23153(a) VC or driving with a 0.08 percent or higher blood alcohol content causing injury in violation of California Vehicle Code § 23153(b) VC.
Drivers in California who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs may be charged under California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) VC (driving while under the influence of alcohol), violating California Vehicle Code § 23152(b) VC (driving with a BAC of .08 or higher), and California Vehicle Code § 23152(f) VC (driving under the influence of drugs).
For any California driver to be convicted under California Vehicle Code § 23153, the following three elements must be proven by the prosecution. :
- The driver violated California statutes related to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including California Vehicle Code § 23152,
- The driver violated other California law or acted negligently while driving, and
- This violation of law or negligent act caused bodily injury.
In proving the person neglected any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, it is unnecessary for the prosecution to prove that any specific section of § 23153 was violated. The prosecution must only prove that drivers of commercial vehicles drove with a BAC of 0.04% or greater to show a violation of California DUI law.
The criminal offense of DUI causing injury under California Vehicle Code § 23153(a) VC is a “wobbler” offense meaning that the prosecution may charge the act as either a misdemeanor or felony. In California, DUI offenses are “priorable” offenses meaning that prior offenses affect subsequent convictions thereby increasing their punishment.
Therefore, the crime of “DUI Causing Injury” is significantly affected by whether the DUI conviction is the motorist’s second DUI conviction within ten years. A third “DUI Causing Injury” offense within ten years is automatically charged as a felony DUI.
For most first time offenders or those who have only one prior DUI-related conviction within the past ten years, DUI causing injury would typically be charged as a misdemeanor and may be punishable by up to five years of probation, up to a year in jail, expensive court fines, victim restitution, a three, six, nine, eighteen or thirty-month DUI class, and a driver’s license suspension imposed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Unlike standard DUI charges, if the defendant has two DUI-related convictions within the last ten years, a DUI causing injury charge is an automatic felony. If convicted of the felony offense, a defendant can be sentenced to up to four years in prison with an additional three to six years if any victim suffered great bodily injury.
A misdemeanor DUI causing injury under VC 23153 may result in informal or summary probation for three to five years. It may result in five days to one year of jail time in a county jail. Defendants may be fined between $390-$5,000 in fines. If eligible for California DUI School, defendants may enroll in a three, nine, 18, or 30-month court-approved alcohol or drug education program.
A misdemeanor DUI may also result in a one or three-year suspension of driving privileges or defendants may continue to drive without limitation if they install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for 6 months. Defendants must also pay restitution to any injured party.
A felony “DUI Causing Injury” may result in two, three, or four years in the California State Prison, with an additional and consecutive three- to six-year prison sentence if a victim suffers great bodily injury, or an additional and consecutive one-year sentence for each additional person that suffers any injury, up to three years maximum.
A felony conviction for “DUI Causing Injury” will also result in a “strike” on a driver’s record under California’s Three-Strike’s Law if anyone other than the driver suffers great bodily injury. Drivers may also be fined between $1,015-$5,000. Defendants may continue to drive without limitation if they install an IID for one year. Drivers are also subject to an 18- or 30-month court-approved DUI school, Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) status for three years, and a five-year revocation of their California driver’s license
John Patrick Dolan has handled everything from traffic tickets to death penalty murder cases. Mr. Dolan has represented California motorists charged with DUI for over 40 years. He is a recognized California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law and a true courtroom veteran of DUI cases. Call the Dolan Law Offices today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.