DUI with Injury in San Diego

If during the course of an investigation a person is charged with a DUI (driving under the Influence) and the person who was in physical control of the vehicle was involved in an accident an which there was injury to another person they would likely be charged with California Vehicle Code VC23153.  Initially this charge is most likely going to be a “wobbler” which means that it may be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony.  There are two basic elements in deciding how it would be charged they are:

1.  The circumstances of the alleged offense, and

2.  The persons past criminal history, with particular attention and emphasis being placed on past DUI or alcohol/drug related arrests and conviction.

Summery of California Code VC23153 DUI Causing Injury

The State of California enacted the first DUI laws in 1911.  In the beginning these laws were not specifically defined to the point where it left a lot of room for interpretation.  As a result lobbyists asked the State to be stricter in the enforcement of DUI’s.  In the 1980’s, various groups (including and most prominent being Mothers Against Drunk Driving or MADD) lobbied and later convinced the State of California to analyze and rewrite California DUI laws.  It was during this time frame of the 80’s that major changes and revisions along with new legislation changed the way DUI’s were prosecuted, defended, and new sentencing guidelines were established.  In 1981 the Vehicle Code VC23152 was first introduced into law.  During this earlier time the California Law prohibited a person to be driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while “under the Influence” of alcohol with a blood concentration over .10% or above.  In light of even more continued political pressure the Legislation of California lowered the level to a threshold amount to .08% in 1989 where it remains as of today.

Prosecutor’s Must Prove DUI Causing Injury

In the State of California in order for the prosecutor to convict a person of the California Vehicle Code VC23153(a), (DUI causing injury) there are basically three components or “elements of the crime” that they must be able to prove:

1.   You were under the influence of intoxicating alcohol or drugs while in physical control of a motor vehicle,

2.   while in physical control, the operator broke or violated another law (other then the underlying DUI) OR acted in a manner that was negligent while in physical control, and,

3.   that the actions of your unlawful or negligent act injured another person other then the person being investigated for the crime.

In order for the prosecutor to find a person responsible and convict under Vehicle Code VC23153(b) “Driving or actual physical control of a vehicle with a BAC over .08% and causing an injury” the element of #1 would change and element #2 and #3 would remain the same.  So in that case the prosecutor would have to show you were in actual control of a vehicle with a BAC over .08%.  The one exception is if the operator was in physical control of a commercial vehicle, in those cases the prosecutor needs to prove that the operator was over the limit of .04% or greater.

Sentencing/Punishment and Penalties related to Vehicle Code VC23153

The punishment and sentencing for VC23153 in the State of California can fluctuate and varies a great deal depending on the circumstances of:

1.  The facts and information on your specific case, and

2.   if you have any prior DUI’s within the California lookback period of ten years.  In California the would recognize DUI’s within this lookback period as “priors” and this could mean that the punishment and sentencing can increase and become more sever.

Also, if during the lookback period that unlike a DUI with no injury if this is a persons third DUI and there is an injury this would cause the offense to move automatically to a California Felony DUI and not the misdemeanor offense.

Below are the different types of penalties a person could face if he/she was convicted of either a misdemeanor or felony VC23153.  Please keep in mind that each court can may charge and sentence these punishments differently, which is why its so important to hire an experienced local attorney like Ross Law Center.

DUI with Injury Misdemeanor

1.  Summery Probation (also known as informal or unsupervised) probation for a term of 3-5 years,

2.  A term of incarceration into the county jail for 5 days to 1 year,

3.  A fine ranging from $350.00 to $5000.00.

4   A court approved Alcohol or Drug education program for a term of three, nine, eighteen, or thirty months, this is also commonly referred to as DUI School.

5.   A Department of Motor Vehicle Suspension for a period of one to three years on your California privileges to operate a motor vehicle.

6.  Pay restitution to all parties that may have been injured.

Felony DUI Resulting in Injury

1.  Incarceration into a California State Prison for a term of two, three, or four years WITH

2.  An additional term consecutive term of three to six years if the persons injured sustained as a result of the accident great bodily injury or,

3.  the addition of a term of a consecutive one year for each additional person that suffered an injury with a max additional term of an additional three years.

4.  Under the California Three Strikes Law, the addition to a strike on the persons record if there was anyone injured other then the operator,

5.  A fine in the range of $1015.00 to $5000.00

6.  The title of HTO- Habitual Traffic Offender for a period of 3 years and

7.  A revocation of the persons drivers license and privilege to drive by the Department of Motor Vehicles for a period of 5 years.

How Will Ross Law Center Help

When you or a loved one has been charged with VC23153 it begins with the same basic approach as defending a driving under the influence charge.  At Ross Law Center we will examine all of the possibilities and relevant information and discovery for all possibilities that 1) you were not under the influence and/or 2) that your blood alcohol level may show signs that it was reported inaccurately.  At Ross Law Center in addition our skilled firm will additionally ensure that all arrests, reports, investigations, and devices used both in the field and/or the substation or booking station were functioning properly and the procedures in collecting the samples were followed and adhered to. 

At Ross Law Center our firm takes an even more in-depth approach when focusing on DUI cases that involved accidents and subsequently injury.  At Ross Law Center attorney Vincent Ross will carefully examine the discovery of all accident reports and even use a reconstruction expert if necessary.  This expert  can use their skill and expertise to give an independent (also refered to as expert opinion) to evaluate whether the accident that caused the sustained injuries was actually the fault of our client.  The Accident Reconstruction or expert witness will create a re-enactment of the accident scene, paying special attention and detailing important factors such as, the weather, road conditions, damage to each vehicle, and any other important information that is detailed in the accident report or the discovery.  This information can be crucial because there seems to be a common assumption among most law enforcement officers that if a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs they assume that person is to blame for the accident. 

At Ross Law Center we invite anyone who has been arrested for an alcohol related offense to call and schedule a free initial consultation as soon as possible. Many times the charging division must take into account several variables when initially deciding how and if they will charge a “wobbler” as either a misdemeanor or a felony.  At Ross Law Center we will discuss your case with you and give you the opportunity to ask questions so you can make the best decision when choosing your legal representation. At Ross Law Center “Experience Counts.”