California has strict DUI laws in an effort to crack down on DUI offenses. When injuries are involved in a DUI, the penalties become even more severe. The danger of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol does not only affect you, it affects other drivers who share the road with you. If you are involved in an accident that causes injury you could face license suspension, fines, and even jail time.
California DUI Laws
In California, if you have been charged with a DUI causing injury, the prosecutor must be able to prove the following facts in order to convict you as it relates to California Vehicle Code 23153:
- You were the driver operating the vehicle involved in the accident.
- You were under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both.
- You committed an illegal act or were negligent while driving and as a result caused serious bodily injury to another person.
While the first two bullet points on the list are pretty clear, the third item may not be. When we refer to committing an illegal act while driving, or driving in a negligent manner, it may be easier to visualize with an example, such as running a red light. If you are under the influence of a drug, or have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, it is against the law to be operating a motor vehicle. If you are impaired while operating a motor vehicle and you run a red ligh and as a result collide with another motorist causing injury, you have committed an illegal act while driving that would likely result in a charge of DUI causing injury.
Negligent driving can relate to many factors, including, but not limited to:
- Not stopping at a red light.
- Not stopping for pedestrians at a crosswalk.
- Not following the vehicle in front of you at a safe distance; tailgating.
- Violating the posted speed limit.
- Not maintaining proper control of the vehicle.
- Texting while driving.
As you can see, negligent behavior combined with DUI can create dangerous situations that can lead to severe consequences.
DUI Causing Injury Penalties
In a first conviction for a DUI causing injury, you may face what is known as a “wobbler” offense. A “wobbler” offense is one in which the prosecution has the discretion to determine whether the DUI causing injury should be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. How the case is charged will typically depend on the circumstances of your DUI case as well as any prior criminal history you may have.
If you are tried and convicted of a misdemeanor DUI causing injury you will face up to one year in county jail, as well as fines up to $1,000.00. In addition to these penalties, you will likely face license suspension for a period of up to one year.
If, however, your case is tried as a felony and you are convicted you will face up three years in county jail and up to $5,000.00 in fines. Your license will likely be suspended for a period of up to three years. As you can see, felony DUI causing injury can have harsh penalties.
Alternatively, you may face a probation sentence of up to five years imposed by the court. During the period of your probation you will not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle with any amount of alcohol in your bloodstream, and you cannot commit any criminal offenses while on probation, either. Additional punishments may include the requirement to complete a drunk drivers program for a designated period of time, generally between 30-60 hours over 3-9 months.
The penalties, however, do not stop with just legal and financial trouble. A DUI conviction can cause increased insurance rates and a conviction on your record can make it difficult to apply for and obtain employment.
Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney
If you have been involved in a DUI accident causing injury you should seek the counsel of an experienced DUI attorney who can guide you through the criminal process while discussing developments in your case the moment they occur. If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation to confidentially discuss the details of your case please contact us today at (559) 222-5800. In most instances an appointment can be scheduled for the same day.