The California law defines “DUI causing injury” as when you drive under the influence and cause bodily injuries to another person due to your actions. According to California law, it is a criminal offense to operate a vehicle while under the influence and, in the process, do a forbidden act. It is also a crime to neglect any duty imposed by the law while driving the vehicle and injuring another person. The violation of the law can result in a felony or a misdemeanor conviction, and you may end up facing severe penalties. DUI causing injury conviction can affect your freedom as a citizen and also your right, a reason why you should get help from an attorney to fight the charges.
When you are charged with DUI causing injury in Orange County, you should not fight the battle on your own because you might lose the case and end up in the county jail or the state prison. The court process can be challenging if you handle it on your own, a reason enough to make you hire an attorney to help you through the trial process. Our attorneys at Orange County Criminal Lawyer will help in doing a thorough investigation to ensure that they have enough proof to present before the court. They will do their best to prove that you were not the reason why the accident happened and that you are not liable for the victims’ injuries.
Understanding the DUI Laws in California
The DUI law in California explains that:
- It is a crime to drive under the influence and violate a traffic law or commit any other negligent act that injures another person.
- The law explains that it is illegal to drive while knowing that your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or greater.
- Any negligent crime that you may commit while driving under the influence is enough to convict you of driving under the influence.
- It is against the California law to drive a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04$ or greater. The reason for that is, commercial vehicles are bigger and carry heavy loads. If you cause an accident with a commercial vehicle, the victims are likely to sustain severe injuries and can lead to massive loss of property.
- The law also explains that it is a crime to drive a commercial vehicle while under the influence and car's passenger.
- It is against the law if you drive under the influence of a drug and injure another person.
- It is against the California law to drive while under the influence of alcohol and drugs because you may cause severe injuries to the victim if an accident happens.
When DUI Causing Injury is Charged as a Felony
As said earlier, DUI causing injury can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances and the history of your criminal records. In most cases, you will be convicted as a misdemeanor if the police arrest you for DUI causing injury. However, some factors will make the judge alter the verdict. Some of these factors that will convict you as a felony are:
Fourth DUI Conviction
A felony conviction is dependent on the number of times you will be charged with the same offense. If the police arrest you and are convicted for a fourth time for DUI causing injury, your criminal actions will be recharged as a felony. The charges for any DUI case usually increase as long as there is an existing record.
Third DUI Conviction
Your DUI causing injury crime will be charged as a felony if it is your third time to be convicted. Felony convictions have harsh penalties compared to a misdemeanor offense. Therefore, you are advised to hire an experienced attorney to gather all the evidence and present the legal defenses that will reduce your charges or have your case dropped.
If DUI causing injury leads to the victim sustaining catastrophic injuries, then the prosecutor may charge you as a felony convict. For example, if the accident that you caused led to death, you will face penalties for a felony convict. Therefore, it means that you will be charged as a felony convict even if it's your first time to commit a DUI causing injury. That is as long as you wreak havoc as a result of our negligence.
Felony convictions are never easy to handle, especially if it is a fourth time. The penalties are usually hard and severe, and it may be very challenging if you decide to take the case on your own. It is good to get an attorney who will reduce the penalties even though it may be hard to have your DUI causing injury case dropped.
What the Prosecutor Must Prove to Convict You for DUI Causing Injury
For the prosecutor to convict you for DUI with Injury, they must prove some few elements. These elements are:
- While driving, you violated California laws on DUI
- While driving, you committed an additional crime in a negligent manner
- You negligently and unlawfully injured another person as a result of driving under the influence.
- The prosecutor will have to prove that you violated the DUI causing injury laws by:
- Driving while your ability to operate and control the vehicle was impaired
- Driving a vehicle when your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or greater
- Driving under the influence of a combination of alcohol and drugs, alcohol, or drugs alone.
- If you were operating a commercial vehicle, then the alcohol level in your blood enough to convict you is 0.04% or greater.
For a better understanding, let’s have a closer look at the elements.
That You Violated the Law by Driving Under the Influence
California law provides that for you to be convicted of violating the DUI laws, you must have acted negligently and that you broke the law as a result of impairment. Therefore, it means that it is due to your negligent actions that the other person was injured.
You Were Driving the vehicle With A Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08 or Greater
For DUI purposes causing injury laws, driving under the influence means that your ability to operate a vehicle is impaired. You could not, therefore, take caution while using the road. You will prove guilty if, after the blood test, your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or greater when the police arrest you. This is usually the case whether you were driving under the influence or not
Legal Defenses to DUI Causing Injury
Upon conviction of DUI causing injury, you should have an attorney by your side to help challenge the case on your behalf to lower the chances of losing. An experienced attorney will prove that other reasons led to you causing the accident and not driving under the influence. The attorney will also challenge the urine, breath, and blood samples that were retrieved and used for testing your blood alcohol concentration.
Because sometimes the prosecutor may have challenges proving that you were driving under the influence, the DUI causing injury may be reconstructed by your attorney. The attorney can relate your DUI causing injury, either poor road conditions, bad weather, vehicle damage, and any other factor that seems natural to cause harm by a sober driver. Some of the legal defenses that your attorney will present are:
That Erratic or Bad Driving Does Not Equal DUI
The arresting police should have a probable cause to arrest you for DUI, for example, your driving pattern. When the prosecutor convicts you of driving under the influence, your attorney can fight the charges by arguing that your poor driving doesn't mean you were under the influence. He or she will challenge the arresting officer to testify that sober people commit most traffic violations. A driving pattern does not mean that one is driving under the influence. The defense can be a possible way to fight the charges because they are experienced in criminal law, especially DUI.
That You have Physical Intoxication Symptoms and Not DUI
The defense above can be effective because of your physical appearance matters in a DUI investigation. Your attorney will prove the prosecutor wrong by arguing that the use of physical intoxication is not enough reason to have you convicted of driving under the influence. You find that the arresting police can testify that you were indeed under the influence because you had a slurred speech, red eyes, unsteady gait, or a flushed face. Your skilled attorney can prove before the court that the physical intoxication symptoms result from fatigue, cold, allergic reactions are eye irritation.
Sobriety Test Is Not Enough to Measure Your Impairment
The arresting officers can perform a sobriety test on you to prove that you are under the influence. They will present the results that you poorly performed in the test, which was a probable cause for them to arrest you. If convicted of driving under the influence, test results are part of the arresting offices' evidence. The defense can help fight the charges against you. Your attorney from the Orange County Criminal Lawyer can fight back by arguing that your coordination and performance in the sobriety test resulted from other factors like fatigue, clothing, nerves, physical condition, or any other issues.
The “Mouth Alcohol” Falsified the BAC Results
False BAC results can be an excellent legal defense, especially if you are sure that you have more than 0.08% of BAC. Before the arresting officer conducts any breath test on you, you are allowed fifteen minutes to ensure that you do not eat anything that contains alcohol like the drugs, mouth wash, or any other drink. The arresting officers also ensure that you do not regurgitate, burp, or belch because that would affect your BAC test results. Your attorney will challenge the BC test results successfully with their experience, and you will have your charges reduced, or the case against you dismissed.
The Arresting Officer Did not Conduct A Proper Test
Before the arresting officer conducts a breath test for the BAC level, there is a fifteen-minute wait that you should be allowed. Therefore, your attorney can argue that the police did not observe the fifteen-minute wait period, leading to erroneous test results. If the prosecutor proves that the police did not follow the correct procedure for testing the BAC, your case will be dismissed or charges reduced.
The Arresting Police Did Not Comply With Blood And Breath Testing Regulations
There are regulations that the arresting officer should follow before conducting any BAC test. They are:
- A fifteen minutes wait period
- Proper test administration
- Proper collection of samples, handling and also storage
- The officers should be well trained to conduct the tests
- Regular maintenance and calibration of the equipment should be done.
Your experienced attorney can fight the charges by arguing that regulation wasn't observed and that the arresting officer's evidence is not reliable.
Your BAC was on the Rise
It can be a legal defense to fight the charges against you. The reason being, you do not commit a crime by driving before driving, but it is a crime to drive while impaired. Your BAC can rise steadily and rapidly, affecting the BAC results. Your qualified attorney can defend your case by arguing that your BAC was low when the arresting police pulled you over. Your attorney can also argue that our BAC level rose due to the officers' lengthy investigation.
You Were Mentally Alert And Not Driving Under the Influence
In most cases, the arresting officers will testify that you are a DUI suspect based on the physical signs and not mental impairment. Your defense attorney can defend the case by arguing that other factors could have led to physical impairment signs. They will also argue that physical symptoms do not necessarily mean that you are under the influence.
Health Condition and Diet Led to Inflated BAC Results
A qualified criminal attorney knows that health conditions like diabetes and foods can lead to inflated BAC test results. There are body conditions and diets that will alter the BAC results. They are fasting, diabetes, high protein, and low carbohydrate diets. Body metabolism can lead to toxic substances that will increase the level of alcohol in your blood. The toxins can make you have impairment symptoms like having an alcohol smelling breath, confusion, and lack of coordination
Penalties for DUI Causing Injury
A DUI causing injury is a priorable crime, meaning that you can be charged as a felony convict if there is a build-up of DUI criminal history. DUI causing injury can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on your criminal record. You will be charged if you cause an injury to another person due to driving under California's influence. You will be subjected to charges because you will be found guilty of driving under the influence, which violates California law. You will also be charged because you will have injured a third party out of your criminal actions. The severity of the penalties that you will face will depend on your criminal history and your case's circumstance. The sentences will keep increasing for subsequent DUI convictions. A simple DUI causing injury can be treated as a misdemeanor, although there are instances where your first DUI causing injury crime may be charged as a felony. Misdemeanor and felony convictions can lead to various consequences, such as serving a jail term or having your driving privileges suspended. You can end up facing severe penalties, especially if you caused death to another person as a result of DUI.
If the prosecutor charges you with DUI causing injury as a misdemeanor, you will face the following penalties:
- You will pay a fine ranging from $390 and $5000
- You will have to undergo a court-imposed program on alcohol for 3 to 30 months.
- You will serve a jail term for a period ranging from 5 to one year in the county jail.
- You will undergo informal probation for 3 to 5 years.
- Your driving license will be suspended for one to three years and
- There will be restitution to any victim.
If it is a subsequent DUI with injury conviction, the crime is charged as a felony. You will, therefore, face the following penalties:
- You will have to undergo a DUI school imposed by the court for 18-30 months.
- You will pay a fine of $1015 to$5000
- You will be imprisoned for 2-4 years in the California state prison.
- If you caused bodily injuries to the victim, you will face an additional three years in California state prison, which should be completed consecutively.
- If the victim suffered severe body injuries, there would be one stroke on your driving records.
- Your driving license will be suspended for five years and
- Your status will be recorded as a Habitual Traffic Offender for three years.
Offenses That Relate to DUI Causing Injury
In addition to the DUI causing injury penalties, the prosecutor can charge you with other crimes depending on circumstances. Some of the common related crimes are:
Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated
You will be charged with vehicular manslaughter, which is a more severe offense under any of the circumstances:
- If the prosecutor finds you guilty of driving under the influence, acts negligently, or breaks another law and, in the process, causes the death of another person.
- If, when driving under the influence, you commit an act that is likely to result in the death of another person
Hit and Run Offense That Involves Death or Injury
The prosecutor will charge you with a hit and run felony conviction is if you cause an accident as a result of DUI if:
- You do not stop to provide information to the victim in case the requires a compensation for the injury they will sustain
- You do not assist the victim in case they require medical attention.
If the police arrested you for DUI causing injury, you had a child in your vehicle as to the passenger. You will be charged with child engagement. If your child engagement offense is charged as a felony, you will face imprisonment for up to six years in the state prison.
Second Degree Murder
You could be charged with murder case if you caused an accident that led to another person's death by driving under the influence. It is regarded as second-degree murder, and you may face imprisonment for up to fifteen. Therefore, you will need an attorney who will fight the charges against you by presenting legal defenses, one who knows how to mitigate the charges, and one who will negotiate the penalties on your behalf. In most cases, if you are charged with second-degree murder, the prosecutor will have a strong negotiating power, and you may end up losing in your case.
Find A DUI Causing Injury Attorney Near Me
If the police arrest you for DUI, causing injury in Orange County, your fate will be determined by the severity of injuries you will have inflicted on the victim. If the victim did not suffer severe injuries, you would be charged as a misdemeanor convict. Therefore, your penalties will be less severe though you will be required to hire an attorney to help defend your DUI causing injury. If, on the other hand, you caused severe injuries to the victim, you will be charged with felony DUI causing damage.
The felony conviction will also depend on your criminal history and many other related crimes. The victim may make the injury look more severe than it is in reality. They can do so, especially if they want to get massive compensation from you or the insurance company. At times like that, when you need a qualified criminal attorney to handle your DUI causing injury crime for the sake of your freedom and record. Our attorneys at Orange County Criminal Lawyer will help defend your case and have your charges reduced. Call us today at 714-262-4833 and get the best criminal attorney to help you.