DUI Causing Injury in Ventura
California DUI with Injury
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.
Arrested for DUI in which a bodily injury was caused? Contact us today to discuss your defense options!
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.
Requirements for Prosecution to Prove DUI Causing Injury
DUI causing injury involves three elements. You cannot be accused of DUI causing injury if you only harmed yourself. The prosecution must prove the following:
- Prosecutors must demonstrate that you operated a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
- The prosecution must be able to show that you broke the law or committed an act of negligence while driving drunk.
- Prosecutors must prove that your negligence was responsible for someone else's injury.
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 with injury may result in a felony or misdemeanor charge. If convicted of misdemeanor DUI with injury, you may be subject to the following penalties:
- Three to five years of informal probation
- Incarceration in a county jail for five days to one year
- A $390 to $1,000 fine
- An 18-month or 30-month alcohol program
- License restriction for one to three years
- Restitution for injured persons
Felony DUI is punishable by at least 16 months in a state prison. You may be sentenced to ten years in a California state prison with an additional six years of incarceration, depending on the severity and number of injuries. Felony DUI with injury is punishable by a $5,000 fine and 30-month alcohol program. The DMV may label you as a habitual traffic offender for three years and, like misdemeanor DUI with injury, you may be required to pay restitution to each person who suffered an injury.
Facing charges for DUI with injury in CA? Get a FREE consultation today!