San Diego DUI with Injury Attorney
In California, there is a vast difference in being charged with a simple DUI (driving under the influence) and being charged with a DUI causing injury. While both are serious, those convicted of a DUI causing injury face much harsher penalties.
Charged with a Drunk Driving Accident
When a serious auto accident has occurred and one driver tests above the legal limit for DUI (0.08% for adult drivers, 0.04% for commercial drivers, 0.02% for underage drivers), the assumption is that he caused the accident. Per California Vehicle Code § 23153, any person who is found to be under the influence will be held responsible for any accident in which another party was injured.
It is important to note that the driver does not have to be under the influence of alcohol. Being under the influence of drugs, whether legal prescriptions or illegal substances, can also result in a DUI.
A DUI accident refers to when a person who is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs causes a car accident that injures someone, causes property damage, or leads to the death of another. Any DUI accident, no matter how minor, may be disastrous to the defendant. A typical DUI with injury charge will include jail time, payment for damages caused, and loss of driving privileges.
If you have been charged with any of these crimes, it is important that you speak to a California criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. JD Law is amply qualified to handle your DUI case, so call us today at (760) 630-2000.
Proving DUIs Causing Injury in California
In a regular DUI case, the prosecution must prove that:
- You were driving a vehicle, and
- You were affected by drugs and/or alcohol.
In order to prove a DUI causing injury, the prosecution must be able to prove that the injuries were associated with the accident and that you neglected to drive responsibly.
For example, imagine that you had too many drinks at a concert and then drove home. During the drive, someone rear-ended you and he was hurt. You could be charged with a DUI if your blood alcohol level was above 0.08%, but because you did not cause the accident, it is unlikely that you would be charged with a DUI causing injury.
However, if you were driving home after the same concert after having a few too many drinks and you rear-ended someone and the driver was hurt, you could be charged with a DUI causing injury. You must have been negligent or acted irresponsibly, in addition to driving under the influence, in order to be charged with such a crime. That negligence must also have caused injury to another person.
However, the person injured does not have to be a passenger or driver in another vehicle. In fact, if a passenger in your vehicle is injured because of an accident that you caused or contributed to while under the influence, he or she may still file a lawsuit against you. And because there were injuries present, the prosecution can still press charges even if the injured party does not wish to.
Penalties for DUI Causing Injury
When you have harmed another person by driving under the influence, you face much harsher penalties than a regular DUI. The sentence handed down by the court will depend on the facts of the specific case and whether or not you had any previous DUIs within the last ten years. This is sometimes referred to as a "lookback period." Because of this lookback period, each conviction will result in a heavier penalty the next time.
If the DUI with injury charge is filed as a misdemeanor, you could be placed on summary probation for 3 to 5 years, spend anywhere from 5 days to 1 year in county jail, and have to pay between $4,390 and $5,000 in fines. In addition to these penalties, you may also be required to attend an alcohol or drug education program for 3, 9, 18, or 30 months, depending on what the court deems appropriate. Those convicted will also likely lose their driver’s license for 1 to 3 years.
Having a prior history of DUIs causing injury is more serious. When a person is convicted of a DUI causing injury for a third time within the same 10-year period, it becomes an automatic felony in the state of California instead of a misdemeanor. If convicted, you would be a registered felon.
Committing a felony also carries serious consequences. Once convicted, a person could face 2 to 4 years in a state prison, and an additional 3 to 6 years in prison if any victim suffers great bodily injury. Any injury resulting from the accident could add an additional 1-year sentence up to a maximum of 3 years. Convictions can also result in fines between $1,015 and $5,000, and you may have to attend an alcohol or drug education program for 18 or 30 months. It is also likely that a conviction would result in the loss of your driver’s license for as long as 5 years.
There are a number of offenses that the prosecution could charge a person with in addition to, or in lieu of, a DUI with injury.
Under California Penal Code 191.5, a person could be charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated if he unlawfully killed another while driving a vehicle while breaking DUI law, though the crime did not amount to a felony and he did not show "gross negligence." If he did show gross negligence, the prosecution could press the more serious charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
The prosecution could also charge a person with a felony hit and run involving death or injury, regardless of who was to blame for the accident. In these cases, the prosecution must prove that you did not stop and provide information or reasonable assistance to those with injuries after an accident.
If there is a child in the car with the driver under the influence at the time of a DUI causing injury, the driver could also be charged with child endangerment under California Penal Code 273a. If convicted of this felony, you could face up to six years in a state prison.
Building an Effective Defense for DUI Accident Cases
At JD Law, we have extensive experience with DUI cases. We know how to look for the cracks in the prosecution’s case, and we have been able to get very good results for past clients.The types of issues that could lead to a dismissal, reduction, or acquittal in your charges include:
- Blood testing incorrectly administered (plasma tested only)
- Weather conditions that may have contributed to the accident
- Faulty accident investigation identifying the wrong party as responsible
- Police errors in any aspect of the case
- Lab errors when testing breath or blood evidence
- Errors in chain of custody of blood sample
- Medical conditions impacting BAC test results
We Can Help Protect Your Rights
If you have been charged with a DUI or DUI causing injury, you should speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. These charges are serious and, if you are convicted, can have a drastic impact on your freedom and reputation. A qualified attorney from JD Law with years of experience can help protect your rights and give you the best chance of a successful outcome. Call us at (760) 630-2000 to speak to a San Diego DUI attorney today.