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What Happens if You’re Involved in a DUI Crash with Injuries?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Feb 02, 2022

These are probably some of the worst situations for DUIs in California because the biggest fear for police, prosecutors, and judges is that somebody will drink alcohol, drive, kill, or seriously injure somebody.

Often, the people who are getting injured are within the vehicle of the driving person.  Even though they are their friends, prosecutors will charge them with a felony DUI if it's a bad enough injury if they are seriously injured. If the injury is really bad, there can be what's called a GBI or great bodily injury allegation.

California Vehicle Code 23153 VC describes the crime of DUI causing injury. In other words, this law makes routine driving under the influence case much more severe when someone is injured.

This crime, DUI causing injury, is generally described as someone driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and then causing physical harm to another person as a result.

California Vehicle Code 23153 - DUI Causing Injury

This DUI-related crime is the aggravated form of driving under the influence offense. It can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony crime, which is called a “wobbler.”

The state of California has many statutes that prosecutors use to charge someone with driving under the influence, such as:

  • Vehicle Code 23152(a) – driving under the influence;
  • Vehicle Code 23152(b) – driving with blood alcohol content 0.08% or higher;
  • Vehicle Code 23152(f) – driving under the influence of drugs.

Vehicle Code 23153(a) VC makes it a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol that resulted in injury to another person regardless of the defendant's blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

To be found guilty under VC 23153(a), the prosecutor must prove the defendant could not drive with the ordinary caution of a sober driver, which is described under CALCRIM 2100 California criminal Jury Instructions. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will review further below.

What are the Penalties for a DUI with Injury?

In that scenario, when you start talking about what you're facing, it is a maximum of three years in prison for the felony DUI with injury. Then there's an additional three years tacked onto the back of that if a great bodily injury occurred.

So, that would be six years in prison the person would be facing.  It doesn't necessarily mean they would get that amount of time.  It depends on several different factors.  For example, who the person is that's injured.

Is it somebody close to you that's not going to tell the prosecutors they want you to go to prison?  Or, is it a total stranger who is very angry with you and wants you to get the maximum punishment?

Another factor, of course, that they're going to look at is your criminal record.  Do you have prior DUIs, or do you have a clean record?  Or, do you have crimes that are not associated with impaired driving and drinking and driving?

So, those are some factors that the prosecutors and judge will look at when deciding what type of sentence you will get. The penalties include:

  • A conviction for a misdemeanor DUI causing injury faces a minimum of five days and up to one year in jail, along with a fine between $390 and $5,000, DUI school, vehicle ignition interlock device, and license suspension and restriction;
  • A conviction for felony DUI causing injury can result in a sentence of two, three, or four years in prison, a fine between $1,015 and $5,000, up to thirty months of DUI school, driver's license revocation, and victim restitution.

If the victim suffered great bodily injury, the punishment would increase to three to six years in prison, with an additional one year for each person suffering an injury.

What are the Related California Crimes?

If a prosecutor can't prove the defendant was DUI causing an injury, they may charge or plea bargain to a reckless driving offense under Vehicle Code 23103 VC. Other related crimes include:

First Step in Defending DUI with Injury Cases

What we have you do is come in, and we'll go over the whole story.  Sometimes, because the police are so angry that you hurt somebody, they do a one-sided investigation, which, of course, is not fair.

So, we need to give the prosecutors and the judge the other side of the investigation.  That's what we're going through in a lot of these cases. We're also mitigating the case.  Meaning, we're getting character letters.  We're getting witness statements that might be helpful to you.  This is known as a prefiling intervention.

We're getting your driving record to show you have a clean record.  It's whatever applies to you, but these are the types of things that we're doing to try to tip the scales in your favor.

Sometimes there might be an angle to defend the case, depending on the circumstances.  I'll give you a perfect example when it comes to DUIs with injuries where you might be able to defend it. That would be if we could show that you were not the cause of the actual injuries in the case.  Because if you're not the cause, then you're not responsible for the injuries themselves.

Creating a Defense Plan for Best Outcome

So, many things can be done in these DUI cases.  Don't be fooled by these people when you call, and they start spouting off things that don't have anything to do with you.

Los Angeles DUI Lawyer

We'll listen to what you have to say about your DUI with injuries if you were involved in a crash.  We'll get the whole story.  Perhaps the chemical test was inaccurate, or you did not cause injuries to the other driver.

We'll find out about you, and then we'll put the plan together — a plan that's custom fit, if you will, for you and your circumstances — not trying to ram a square block into a round circle; not trying to tell you things that do not apply to you because that doesn't make sense.

So, if you want the best, you've come to the right place.  I've worked for the District Attorney's office, so I know how they deal with DUI felony matters and misdemeanors.

I've been defending people just like you as a criminal defense attorney since 1994.  So, I've got a well-rounded background, very well suited to help you.  Pick up the phone.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding, and I will do everything to resolve your matter. Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles County, and we offer a free case evaluation by calling (213) 542-0979.

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About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.