A DUI charge is scary enough; however, if you injure someone in an accident while you are intoxicated, you can face fines and months or even years in prison. Below, we detail the differences between a DUI and DUI that involves an injury, what penalties you might face, and possible defenses against these charges.
For help in Riverside or San Bernardino, call Greenberg & Greenberg today: 951-274-0003.
What is the difference between a DUI and a DUI causing injuries in California?
You can face charges for a DUI if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 above and/or the alcohol affects your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. You may think that the only difference is that a DUI causing injuries requires that someone was hurt in an accident and alcohol was involved, but that is not the only difference. For the state to convict you of DUI causing bodily injury, the following must apply:
- Officers could have charged you with DUI at the time of the accident; and
- You were negligent in some way; and
- That additional negligence caused someone else to be injured.
For example, after consuming several beers, Ron was driving home from a football game. While he was legally traveling through an intersection, another driver, Josh, ran the red light and T-boned Ron’s car. Josh was injured. The officer had both Josh and Ron take a breathalyzer test. Josh passed the breathalyzer test, but Ron blew 0.09.
Officers can charge Ron with a regular DUI, but not a DUI causing injuries, even though Josh was injured. This is because Ron did not commit an additional act of negligence that caused the accident. Josh caused the accident by running the red light.
On the other hand, if Ron had run the red light and crashed into Josh who was traveling through the intersection legally, he (Ron) could face charges for DUI causing bodily injury.
What if the impaired driver was the only one injured?
If the impaired driver was the only one injured, he or she will not face charges of causing bodily injury. This is because the statute specifically states, “causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.”
For example, Tony crashes into a pole driving home from the bar. Officers did a breathalyzer test and found his BAC was 0.15. Because he did not cause injuries to anyone else, he cannot face charges for DUI causing injury.
However, if he had a passenger in his car when he ran into the pole, he could face DUI causing injury charges.
What are the penalties for DUI with injuries?
Penalties for a California DUI include up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines plus assessments. A DUI with bodily injury has much harsher penalties:
- First Offense/Misdemeanor: 5 days to one year in jail, a fine of $390-$1,000
- First Offense/Felony: 16 months/2 years/3 years in state prison, and fine up to $5,000
- Second Offense in 10 years/Misdemeanor: 120 days to 365 days in jail
- DUI Causing Injury/Felony: 16 months/2 years/3 years in state prison
If the district attorney alleges and proves an enhancement for great bodily injury, you can receive an additional 3 years in prison.
Does the California law on DUI causing injury only apply to alcohol?
No. It is illegal for a person under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle in California. “Any drug” can include:
- Illegal “street” drugs,
- Prescription medications,
- Over-the-counter medicine,
- Naturopathic or herbal remedies, and
- Any other substance that affects a person’s ability to safely operate a vehicle.
This means you can face DUI charges even if you were taking a prescription medication exactly as directed by your doctor, if it affects your ability to safely operate your vehicle.
Are there any defenses for a DUI causing injuries charges?
Yes. However, the potential defenses depend on your unique circumstances. We might argue any of the following:
- First, we could attack the DUI charges in general. For example, we could fight the alcohol test results.
- We could argue that the other party’s injuries resulted from another event (the other driver’s negligence).
- The alleged injury was so minor that it legally did not constitute a bodily injury.
Call Greenberg & Greenberg for a consultation today.
A DUI causing injuries can keep you in prison for years. Do not risk your freedom or your future. If you have been arrested or are facing charges for DUI causing injuries in San Bernardino or Riverside, we can help. Call Greenberg & Greenberg today at 951-274-0003.