An intoxicated driver who causes an accident in which another person is injured can be charged with “drunk driving with injury.” California Vehicle Code Section 23153 defines the offense:
“It is unlawful for any person, while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug [or with a BAC of .08 or higher], to drive a vehicle and concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.”
Merely being under the influence and having an accident where someone is injured does not necessarily make you guilty of this offense. For example, you may be intoxicated, yet driving appropriately, while another party causes the collision. You may still be guilty of simple DUI, but not the more serious offense of “DUI with injury.”
The charge of “DUI with injury” requires that you either (a) violate a traffic law or (b) act with civil negligence, this violation or negligence being the cause of the accident. For example, speeding, tailgating or failing to stop at a red light, if one of these violations causes the accident and the injuries, would put an intoxicated driver in violation of Section 23153.
Fresno DUI with Injury: The Penalties are Serious
The charge of DUI with injury carries much more serious consequences than a simple DUI. If the prosecutor charges it as a misdemeanor, the defendant faces up to a year in jail plus the other standard DUI penalties. If the prosecutor charges it as felony DUI, the defendant faces 2, 3 or 4 years state prison (plus an additional year for each additional person who is injured).
Worse still, if any of the injured parties is seriously hurt, the DUI defendant may be charged with a “great bodily injury” enhancement. This can add up to three additional years of state prison. Moreover, the “great bodily injury” enhancement makes the DUI offense a “strike” under California's Three Strikes law.
Immediate Hiring of a DUI Lawyer is Absolutely Necessary
If you or a loved one has been charged with “DUI with injury,” contact an experienced Fresno DUI defense attorney immediately. It is critical in these cases that a defense investigation begins as soon after the accident as possible. Typically, investigators and experts need to interview witnesses and to conduct an independent toxicology and accident reconstruction analysis.
The CHP or police officers investigating the accident will typically try to shift blame to the party who has been drinking. Their DUI accident reports will be biased and will omit details that are favorable to the DUI suspect's case. Never take these reports at face value. The DUI defense lawyer must conduct an independent investigation, as early in the process as possible.