Have you been charged with DUI with Injury in Van Nuys, California? It is crucial to seek legal help to avoid the repercussions of a DUI with Injury conviction. A conviction of this offense can lead to a jail sentence, losing your driver’s license, paying huge fines, and a higher insurance rate. The DUI Defense Attorney can help you to avoid or reduce these punishments by defending your charges in court.
Definition of DUI with Injury in California
According to California Vehicle Code 23153, DUI with Injury is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or both and causing injury to another person as a result. This offense is either charged as a felony or misdemeanor.
The following sections will help you to understand the elements of this crime, penalties, legal defenses, and how to get help when you are charged with DUI with Injury.
Elements of Vehicle Code 23153, DUI with Injury
The following facts are essential in the prosecution of a DUI with Injury offense:
- You drove
The prosecutor must prove that you (actually) drove the vehicle in question. Driving occurs when a vehicle moves regardless of the distance covered. Some of the concrete evidence of driving includes keys in the ignition, headlights turned on, an engine that is on, and the defendant seated in the driver seat.
- You are found guilty of breaking DUI laws
Usually, one is considered to violate the drunk driving laws when they drive: (a) while their physical and mental capabilities are hindered by the influence of alcohol, (b) with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more, (c) while under the influence of a drug, or both drug and alcohol.
Blood alcohol concentration is the quantity of alcohol found in one's system. Investigators and prosecutors use chemical tests such as blood and urine tests to determine your alcohol concentration. Typically, a BAC percentage correlates with the level of driving impairment; this is why higher BAC could land you more penalties because there are high chances of more casualties.
Regarding driving under the influence of drugs, the drugs could be prescribed, over-the-counter or illegal. The prosecutor will use evidence like swerving, an accident, or speeding. If the arresting officer suspected that you were under drugs influence but couldn’t establish the type of drug, a drug recognition expert comes in handy to determine the kind of drug.
- You broke another law (apart from the DUI laws) or drove negligently, thereby injuring another person
Apart from violating the DUI laws, VEH 23153 offense requires that you broke another law or drove negligently. Some of the substantial evidence used include failing to stop at a stop sign or red light, making illegal turns, and over-speeding. Consequently, that these specific negligent acts caused injury to another person.
Penalties for a DUI with Injury Conviction
The penalties of DUI causing injury greatly depend on the distinct facts of the case as well as whether it is one's first or second case with a lookback period of ten years. Punishment for DUI offenses in California increases with subsequent convictions.
It is also important to note that unlike DUI with no injury under VEH 23152, a third DUI causing injury offense is always a felony.
Misdemeanor penalties for DUI with Injury include:
- Three to five years of informal probation,
- County jail time of between five days and one year,
- A fine ranging from $ 390 to $ 5,000,
- A court-ordered California DUI school for three, nine, eighteen, or thirty months,
- Compensation to the injured party or parties, and
- Suspension of one's driving license for one or three years (However beginning in 2019, a defendant can continue operating their vehicle without restriction if they install an ignition interlock device (IID).
Felony penalties for DUI with Injury include:
- Two to four years in the State Prison,
- Consecutive three to six years of a prison sentence in case any victim gets a severe bodily injury. Serious bodily injury refers to any physical condition that can lead to death, severe personal disfigurement and a substantial risk of impairment of the function of any organ in the body,
- An additional 1-year sentence (up to 3-year sentence maximum) for every extra person that was injured,
- A strike on the defendant's record pursuant to Three Strikes Laws of California in case the other persons received severe bodily injuries,
- Fines that range from $1,015 to $ 5,000,
- Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) status for three years,
- Eighteen to thirty months of a court-order DUI school,
- A revocation of your driver's license for five years (However, beginning in 2019, you may continue driving your car without restrictions provided you install an ignition interlock device for more than a year).
What is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)? How Does It Work?
An ignition interlock device is a mini-breathalyzer tool. It is about the size of a cell phone and is installed on the steering column of a vehicle. If the court orders you to install one as part of your DUI probation, you must have it installed:
- Installed in every vehicle you drive or own apart from motorcycles and company-owned vehicles.
Before starting your vehicle, you must provide an alcohol-free breath sample by blowing into the ignition interlock device. Otherwise, the car will not start. When driving, the IID will ask for rolling samples between five to fifteen minutes and, then, every forty-five minutes thereafter. You have six minutes to provide a sample when the device asks for these random samples. This is plenty of time to pull over if you don't feel safe to provide the sample while driving.
If you do not pass, the IID will not disable the car. Instead, it will register a "fail" on your log that is reported to the court.
California ignition interlock devices are designed that only the convicted driver can provide their own sample. This is accomplished by:
- Demanding a unique breath pattern for a sample
- Having a short cord that cannot reach to the back or passenger seats
- Asking rolling samples while driving
- Making it illegal to ask someone else to provide their sample on your behalf
- Besides, California IIDs detect and record when the engine starts and stops and any attempt to tamper or disconnect with it and all breath test results.
California ignition interlock device should be taken in for servicing after every 60 days.
First-time DUI defendants are required to use IID for 6 months. And in cases where the defendant is not convicted of DUI but is found liable to the Department for Motor Vehicles (DMV), the length for using an IID is four months. A criminal judge orders installation of IID for one year, two years, and three years for a second DUI conviction, third DUI conviction, and fourth DUI conviction respectively. And if convicted for a second DUI with injury, you may have to install the device for two years and three years for a third conviction.
So how much does ignition interlock device cost? On average, the daily cost of IID is approximately $2.25 while the installation cost is between $ 75 and $100.
California DUI School
California DUI School is a California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) and/or court-ordered alcohol and drugs education and prevention program. One must enroll in DUI school if found quilt of a wet driving or DUI offenses like:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or a combination of both (Vehicle Code 23152 (a) and (c)
- Driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater (Vehicle Code 23152 (b))
- Underage DUI (Vehicle Code 23140)
- Wet reckless (Vehicle Code 23103.5)
DUI schools must be licensed by California State. They offer only in-person programs. The length and the cost of the program depend on one's DUI offense.
The Relationship Between DUI Law with Injury and Commercial Driver's Licenses Vehicle Code 23152 (d)
Vehicle Code 23152(d) is commercial DUI law. It is an offense to drive a commercial car with a BAC of 0.04% or higher. The 0.04% limit only applies when one is driving a commercial vehicle; when a driver is operating a non-commercial vehicle like a small truck, motorcycle, or car, the standard legal limit in California is 0.08%. However, it is important to note that these limits are legitimate and very strict. This is because they apply whether you are driving while intoxicated by alcohol or not.
Conviction of any California's DUI offense can result in suspension of your commercial driver's license (CDL) or criminal penalties. Remember you don't have to be driving a commercial vehicle to suffer these consequences.
Potential court-ordered penalties for drivers convicted of a first time DUI could include:
- Informal probation – Also known as misdemeanor probation or summary probation, this probation is a substitute to jail. It helps low-risk offenders serve their sentence under close court supervision. Typically, it lasts between 1 to 3 years, but can also last up to 5 years. During this time, the offender should comply with conditions like paying restitution, attending counseling, and engaging in community labor. Failure to comply with these conditions may lead to the judge revoking the probation and sending the offender to jail.
- A fine that ranges between $390 and $ 1,000
- A one-year sentence in a county jail
- A 3 to 36-month court-ordered DUI school
These penalties increase with subsequent convictions. And if found quilt of violating Vehicle Code 23153 in any vehicle, a commercial driver can be charged with a felony.
Moreover, a commercial driver convicted of any driving under the influence will have their license suspended for a year. Besides, the punishments apply if the defendant refuses to take either the California DUI breath test or the California DUI blood test.
A second DUI conviction results to loss of CDL for life. It is advisable to contact a qualified DUI attorney immediately if you get arrested for a second DUI.
Defending Against a DUI with Injury Charge
Defending against vehicle code 23153 is similar to fighting any drunk driving charge. An experienced DUI defense lawyer will look into all possibilities of proving that you were not drunk as well your unlawful BAC was wrongly recorded.
A good attorney should engage an accident reconstruction expert to determine whether the accident that caused the injury was your fault. The accident reconstruction expert should be independent. Some of the factors taken into account while reconstructing the accident scene include weather, damage to the cars, road conditions, and any other evidence that they collect.
In addition, the attorney should make sure all investigation, breath-testing, and arrest procedures were well done and use these issues to defend against the DUI with injury charge if they were not followed correctly. Some of the issues your lawyer should raise include:
- You didn't cause the body injury
You might not be convicted of DUI causing bodily injury if you were drunk but not responsible for the injury of a third party. For instance, if it was rainy, you got an accident, and it is proven that weather conditions are to be blamed for the accident, you may not be convicted of DUI causing bodily injury.
- You were not driving when you got arrested
If you were in your car and drunk but there is no evidence of you driving the car, you can't be responsible for a DUI with injury.
- Your BAC was not 0.08% or above
Your lawyer should be in a position to challenge the accuracy of the chemical test and prove your BAC was not 0.08% or higher.
What Are Some of the Related Offenses to VC 23153?
There are several offenses that, depending on the case, you could be convicted apart from DUI with bodily injury. They include:
- Penal Code 191.5 vehicle manslaughter while drunk
Violating this law is more life-threatening compared to Vehicle Code 23153 DUI with injury. If you drive while intoxicated and behave negligently and, as a result, causing the death of a third party, or driving while drunk and doing something that can lead to the death of a third party, you can face charges for PEN 191.5 offense.
- Vehicle Code 20001 Felony Hit and Run Involving Injury or Death
The court will find you guilty of this crime if you got involved in a road accident and did not stop to either give your details or offer help to anyone in need of medical attention. Unlike VEH 23153 violation which is based on whether you caused injury to another person, VEH 20001 is based on whether you stopped at the crime scene after causing injury.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding DUI with Injury
- Is there a difference between driving under the influence and with a BAC of 0.08% or higher?
Driving under the influence includes alcohol or drugs or a combination of both, and it hinders your physical and mental abilities. BAC of 0.08% or more, on the other hand, is the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. Normally, one is charged with DUI if this level of alcohol is found in your system notwithstanding how you were driving.
- If my chemical test showed alcohol in my system, but it was another factor that impaired my driving and caused the accident, can I still be charged with DUI causing injury?
Yes, provided you injured another person besides driving under the influence. For instance, if you were under the influence and a bird flew in front of the windscreen causing you to hit another person, you could be found guilty of DUI causing injury.
- What is the difference between a misdemeanor charge and a felony charge as far as DUI with Injury is concerned?
Typically, misdemeanors result to little monetary fines (less than $ 1,000) and a maximum of one-year jail term. On the other hand, felonies are punished by huge monetary fines which are more $ 1,000 and a sentence that is more than a year in prison.
- If it is my fourth DUI but my first DUI with injury conviction, is that considered a felony?
It depends on the circumstances. If your previous DUI convictions did not include an injury to any person, it is not automatically a felony. Nonetheless, it is important to note that a felony depends on what your previous convictions were and how serious your current case is.
- Can an IID register a false positive?
Most IIDs operate on fuel cell technology that is alcohol specific. That means your IID will not register a false positive because of outside interference like perfume, gasoline, smoke or cigarette. Nevertheless, any amount of alcohol blown into the device will be registered. That means if you consume liquor-filled candy or use mouthwash with alcohol, the device will register alcohol. Fortunately, you will be given an opportunity to retest alcohol registers immediately. It is also advisable to rinse your mouth with water between random samples.
Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Are you facing DUI with Injury in Van Nuys, California? It can affect the rest of your life as well as threaten your freedom. While your back is against the wall, The DUI Defense Attorney is here to assist. We understand the ins and outs of the California criminal justice system.
From the initial consultation, we will build your case and represent you at all court hearings. For more information about DUI causing injury and to schedule your initial meeting, contact us via 818-253-1913.