Is DUI with bodily injury a felony?

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If driving under the influence caused you to injure another person you will likely be charged with DUI with Injury under California Vehicle Code section 23153 VC.  A violation of Vehicle Code section 23153 is a felony.  However, it can also be charged as a misdemeanor.   This charge is what is commonly referred to as a “wobbler”. A “wobbler” means that it may be tried as a felony or a misdemeanor offense depending on the circumstances of the case and your criminal history, especially as it relates to prior DUI offenses.

How is it proven?

In order for the prosecution to prove that you are guilty of DUI Causing Injury three facts must be proven:

  1. You were driving while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
  2. Negligent driving, breaking the law (for example, speeding)
  3. That your negligence or unlawful behavior caused the injury of another person

The prosecutor will look to prove that you operated your vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher is known in California as the “per se” law, meaning that California DUI law presumes that if your BAC is 0.08% or greater at the time of your sobriety test (blood or breath test), you were under the influence and can be convicted of a DUI.

If while driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher you violate the law causing an injury to a person you will likely face a felony offense which can be punishable with prison time. In addition to prison time you may also face other legal penalties including restitution to the victim, increased insurance prices, court fines, loss of professional licenses, loss of employment, and other serious consequences.

It is important to understand that driving under the influence does not necessarily mean you are guilty of the offense if someone was injured. The prosecutor will have to prove that in addition to driving under the influence you violated a traffic law or acted with negligent behavior and that in doing so you were at fault for causing the accident. For example, if you were driving under the influence but did not violate any traffic laws and the other party involved in the accident was at fault, you may not be charged with a felony DUI.

What are the penalties for DUI with bodily injury?

As mentioned above, the penalties can vary depending on the severity of the offense. It also depends on the number of people that were injured in the accident and how badly they were injured. You may face an additional year of prison time for each person that is injured. If the victim suffered serious injuries the prosecutor will likely file for an enhancement for “great bodily injury”, in these cases you can face lengthier prison sentences. You may also face harsher penalties depending on your criminal history and your history with DUI charges, a first time offense will likely not be punished the same as someone with multiple DUI offenses.

A DUI can have long term effects on your personal and professional life. It is important to contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately following your accident to discuss the details of your case.

If you have any questions regarding the services provided at the Law Office of Gregory W. Fox,
or would like to schedule your free initial consultation, please contact us today at (559) 222-5800. Hablamos español.