A legally impaired driver who causes an accident where someone else is injured, even slightly, can be charged with the felony of “DUI with injury”. This is true even if the injured person was the driver’s passenger and doesn’t want to press charges.
All DUI defenses are available for this charge plus one additional defense–that the accident was not your fault. California Vehicle Code Sections 23153 is the DUI with injury statute. But it only applies if you cause the accident. Just being in an accident when you are intoxicated isn’t enough to convict you of the offense. The accident must be your fault. If you were driving while intoxicated and another driver causes an accident, then you could only be convicted of a simple DUI.
In order to convict you of felony DUI with injury, the prosecutor must prove that you either violated some traffic law or were negligent in some way. They must also prove that the traffic violation or negligence caused the accident.
This offense is called a “wobbler” which means the prosecutor can charge it as a felony or a misdemeanor. If charged as a misdemeanor, it carries a maximum of one year in the county jail.
If charged as a felony, it is punishable by either 16 months, two or three years in the state prison. Even a slight injury is enough to trigger this statute.
If the injury is serious, things get much worse. If anyone is seriously injured then you can also be charged with a “great bodily injury” enhancement. If this enhancement is found true by a jury, then you face an additional mandatory three years in the state prison. Moreover, if there is great bodily injury, then the offense of DUI with injury becomes a “strike” offense under California’s three-strikes law.
California Vehicle Code Sections 23153(a) states; “It is unlawful for any person, while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle and concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.”
Section 23153(b) states; It is unlawful for any person, while having 0.08% or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle and concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.”
If you are facing a DUI with injury, you need the best legal representation possible. Your DUI attorney must be experienced in handling felony charges. Don’t hire a DUI lawyer without knowing their education, training and experience. Call (949) 559-5500 for a free telephonic consultation.