DUI with Injury
In California, a motorist who drives under the influence and causes the injury of another person can be charged with a violation of California Vehicle Code section 23152.
DUI occurs when driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, and/or driving under the influence of drugs. A conviction under 23152 VC also requires a second element; the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant also broke another law or acted in an otherwise negligent manner, and that act or negligence caused the other person’s injury.
California Vehicle Code 23153 is the state law regarding DUI with injury. For purposes of this law, driving under the influence can be any violation of three different subsections of 23152 VC:
Driving under the influence, 23152(a) VC
Driving with a BAC of .08 or greater, 23152(b) VC
Driving under the influence of drugs, 23152(e) VC
Elements of the crime of DUI with injury
For the prosecution to obtain a successful conviction, all of the following elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt:
The defendant violated at least one of California’s DUI laws.
While violating the law, the defendant broke another law OR acted negligently.
The defendant’s unlawful act or negligence resulted in the injury of another person.
As noted above, a violation of California’s DUI laws occurs when driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, and/or driving under the influence of drugs.
The second element requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that not only did the defendant violate at least one DUI law, but that they also broke another law or acted in an otherwise negligent manner. To satisfy the above elements, this unlawful act or negligence must have caused the other person’s injury. For example, if a person is driving while under the influence of alcohol AND fails to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, hitting and injuring the pedestrian, the elements for a charge of DUI with injury exist.
23153 VC is a wobbler offense which means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending upon the specific facts of the case and the defendant’s prior criminal history, if any. DUI offenses in California are “priorable” which means that penalties increase with each subsequent conviction. Further, a third DUI with injury is an automatic felony under 23153 VC.
For a misdemeanor DUI with injury, criminal penalties include any or all of:
Five days to one year in county jail.
A fine of between $390 and $5,000.
Informal probation for three to five years.
Driver’s license suspension from one to three years.
Successful completion of a court-approved California DUI school lasting from three to 30 months.
Felony DUI with injury is punishable by any or all of:
Two to four years in state prison, with a sentence enhancement of one additional year for each victim who suffers any injury, and/or an additional three to six years for any victim who sustains great bodily injury, sentences to be served consecutively.
Fines of between $1,015 and $5,000.
A “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law.
Successful completion of an 18 or 30-month court-approved California DUI school.
Being labeled a habitual traffic offender (HTO) for three years.
Revocation of driver’s license for five years.
A charge under 23153 VC is a serious matter, and anyone accused of this crime should seek legal advice specific to their situation from a qualified attorney. Some of the most commonly used legal defenses to a charge of DUI with injury include:
The defendant was not actually driving under the influence.
The defendant’s BAC level was reported inaccurately as the result of faulty breath and/or blood collection and testing procedures.
Exigent circumstances such as severe weather, poor road conditions, preexisting vehicle damage, and/or any other non-alcohol-related condition.