DUI CAUSING INJURY UNDER CALIFORNIA VEHICLE CODE SECTION 23153
It is a crime under California law to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. Furthermore, the California vehicle code creates a separate offense, however, for “DUI Causing Injury.”.
HOW CAN I BE CONVICTED OF DUI CAUSING INJURY UNDER VEHICLE CODE 23153?
To be convicted of DUI causing injury, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you:
Did so, while breaking any other law or otherwise operating your vehicle in a negligent manner, AND
In breaking that law or committing that negligent act.
This means that, after hearing all of the evidence, if the jury is convinced that all three elements are fulfilled, then they will find the defendant “guilty” of DUI causing injury. But, if the jury has any reasonable doubt as to even one of the above elements, then a “not guilty” verdict will result.
For example, if the jury is convinced that the defendant committed DUI but had a reasonable doubt as to whether the defendant proximately caused the victim’s injuries, then that would result in a “not guilty” verdict.
Whether or not the defendant committed DUI is, of course, a separate issue as well. You can be considered DUI if you drive with a BAC of over 0.08% or over 0.04% while driving a commercial vehicle, such as Uber or Lyft, or while driving with a combined amount of drugs and alcohol in your system. For more information, please visit our other section on DUI.
POSSIBLE DEFENSES TO VEHICLE CODE 23153
YOU WEREN’T DRIVING THE CAR
While it seems obvious, you must be driving to be found guilty.You should remember that unless the prosecution proves that you were actually driving a vehicle, sometimes the evidence that identifies the driver is not so cut and dry.There’s the possibility that the prosecution or their witnesses just assumed that someone near a car, post-accident, is the driver, or perhaps the eye-witness identifications of you as the driver are inconsistent, uncorroborated, or simply just not credible.
YOU WEREN’T DUI WHEN YOU WERE DRIVING
Furthermore, remember that the prosecution has to prove that you were actually DUI at the time of the accident. Consider, for example, a case where the defendant gets into a serious accident and survives, but someone else is hurt. The defendant was completely sober during the accident, but afterwards decides to run into a nearby bar and down a few shots to “take the edge off.” Police soon arrive with civilians in tow, screaming that the defendant was just driving the car that got into the accident. Naturally, the police suspect that the defendant is intoxicated and the chemical tests prove this. However, if the evidence presented at trial shows all of the above, this defendant will be found “not guilty” of DUI causing injury because he was not under the influence of anything at the time of the accident. He might be civilly liable for damages related to the accident, and he may have violated some other vehicle code sections depending on how his driving went leading up to the accident. Therefore,under these facts, the defendant would be acquitted of DUI causing injury.
YOUR ACTIONS DID NOT CAUSE THE VICTIM’S INJURIES
Remember that the prosecution not only has to prove not only that you were DUI and someone was injured, but that while you were DUI you broke another law or drove in a negligent manner, and that law-breaking or negligent driving caused the victim’s injuries. In some cases, the defendant, while DUI, speeds or drives in and out of traffic lanes and hits somebody else. In those cases, the defendant will likely be found guilty of DUI causing injury. However, in others cases, the connection between the defendant’s bad driving and the victim’s injury is less clear.
For example, suppose the drunk driving defendant does not properly stop at an intersection with a stop sign, and instead stops with part of their car over the crosswalk. The victim then rear-ends the defendant’s car, which then causes the victim to bang their head on the roof of their own car. In that case, it is true that the defendant was DUI and broke some kind of traffic law. However, the defendant’s actions had little, if anything to do with the victim’s injuries. Therefore, that case should in all likelihood result in a “not guilty” verdict for DUI causing injury.
POSSIBLE PENALTIES AND JAIL TIME FOR VC 23153
DUI causing injury is often charged as a misdemeanor. As such, the possible penalties can be:
5 days to 1 year of jail time.
$390 to $5000 in fines.
DUI school for 3, 9, 18, or 30 months.
1 or 3 year license suspension.
A third conviction for DUI causing injury is charged as a felony, and the penalties for felony DUI causing injury include:
2, 3, or 4 years prison (plus 3 to 6 years if anyone suffers “great” bodily injury).
5 year drivers license revocation.
Habitual traffic offender status for 3 years.