DUI Causing Injury
Understanding California DUI Laws
CA Vehicle Code prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but DUI isn't a simple criminal charge. In fact, there are many different types of DUI. According to Vehicle Code §23153 (a), it is unlawful to injure another person while driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or the combination of both substances. Like standard DUI, it is also unlawful to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that exceeds the legal limit (.08%). However, you can only face a DUI causing injury conviction if prosecution is able to demonstrate that you committed an additional act of negligence while driving under the influence.
A history of California's Drunk Driving Laws
California legislature introduced the first drunk driving law in 1911. At the time, the law simply stated that it was unlawful to "drive under the influence." The law was somewhat vague, and lobbyists quickly began to seek more severe DUI regulations. By the 1980s, an organization called Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) persuaded California to rewrite its DUI laws, which opened the door for significant changes in the way that DUI charges were defended and prosecuted. By 1981, California modified its laws to prohibit driving under the influence with a BAC that exceeded .10%. In 1989, the threshold was lowered to .08% and the state introduced DUI causing injury laws.
DUI with Injury Prosecution Techniques in Ventura, CA
DUI causing injury involves three elements. First, prosecutors must demonstrate that you operated a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Secondly, the prosecution must be able to show that you broke the law or committed an act of negligence while driving drunk. Finally, prosecutors must prove that your negligence was responsible for someone else's injury. You cannot be accused of DUI causing injury if you only harmed yourself.
For example, a driver could face charges of DUI causing injury if he/she ran a red light and caused an accident while driving drunk. If the driver stopped at the light and another motorist rear-ended the drunk driver, the intoxicated driver could face standard DUI charges instead. Other forms of negligence include speeding, cutting in front of another car, rear-ending another vehicle, weaving in and out of traffic, or making in improper lane change.
If the drunk driver did not commit another offense or act of negligence, he/she cannot be held accountable for the other party's injuries. Additionally, the act of negligence must be directly responsible for the injury. A drunk driver could commit a traffic infraction (such as speeding), but attribute the car accident to another factor (such as weather conditions, etc.). If the drunk driver's negligence did not cause the injury, he/she should not be charged with DUI causing injury.
California DUI Causing Injury Penalties
DUI causing injury can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense. Prior DUI offenses and aggravated circumstances can result in a felony charge. Misdemeanor DUI causing injury can result in three to five years of summary probation, five days to one year in a county jail, and a fine between $390 and $5,000. Additionally, the court could order an 18 or 30 month DUI education program, restitution to all injured parties, a one to three year driver's license suspension.
Felony DUI causing injury is punishable by two, three, or four years of incarceration in a California prison. For each victim who suffered great bodily injury in the accident, you could face an additional three to six years in prison. For each person who suffered any type of injury in the accident, you could face another three years of incarceration. Additional penalties include an 18 to 30 month DUI educational program, a five-year period of license revocation, and a $1,050 to $5,000 fine.