In San Diego, driving under the influence (DUI) may be charged as a felony offense when a person drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs and commits another illegal act, and as a result, causes injury or death to another person. Even as a first offense, DUI with injury can result in devastating consequences for you and your loved ones, possibly including costly fines, a lengthy prison sentence and a strike on your criminal record. If you have been arrested for or charged with DUI causing injury in San Diego or the surrounding areas, your first course of action should be to consult an experienced DUI defense attorney. Contact our trial-tested defense lawyers at Sevens Legal, APC today to discuss your legal options.
Knowledgeable DUI With Injury Lawyer
A DUI is a serious criminal charge and when a DUI results in serious bodily injury or death to another person, the ramifications of a conviction can seriously damage your reputation and the rest of your life. That being said, DUI is a charge that experienced defense attorneys routinely beat and with a skilled DUI defense attorney on your side, you may be able to secure a reduction in charges, suppress evidence against you, negotiate a lighter sentence or even walk away with your freedom intact, depending on the circumstances of your case. The main goal of our DUI defense lawyers at Sevens Legal is to advocate for your best interests and eliminate or minimize the negative consequences associated with a DUI arrest or conviction. Contact our San Diego law firm today for a free evaluation of your DUI with injury case.
San Diego DUI With Injury
The crime of DUI with injury is defined as driving under the influence and causing bodily injury to another person as a result. Any person arrested for DUI in San Diego faces two potential charges under California Vehicle Code § 23152 (a) VC for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, and California Vehicle Code § 23152 (b) VC for operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. If that person drives under the influence or with a BAC above the legal limit and causes another person to be injured, he or she could face criminal penalties under California Vehicle Code § 23153 VC.
California Vehicle Code § 23153 VC
Vehicle Code § 23153 VC is the California law governing DUI with injury cases, and the law states the following:
- It is unlawful for a person, while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage, 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.
- It is unlawful for a person, while having 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood 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.
According to this law, if you drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs and commit another illegal act or neglect to perform a legal duty, thereby causing another person other than yourself to be injured or killed, you can face charges of DUI with injury under VC § 23153, regardless of how minor the other person’s injury may be. In this case, negligence means you failed to use reasonable care to prevent a reasonably foreseeable harm to another person. Some examples of illegal acts that may warrant DUI with injury charges include:
- Driving recklessly
- Making an illegal turn
- Failing to stop at a red light
- Failing to stop at a stop sign
- Failing to yield
DUI Causing Death
When a San Diego drunk driving offense causes the death of another person, the case becomes far more serious and immediate intervention by a skilled and aggressive DUI defense attorney is required. Under these circumstances, there are three possible charges that can result:
- Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (a misdemeanor or felony offense)
- Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (a felony offense)
- DUI murder (a felony offense)
The crime of vehicular manslaughter is similar to DUI with injury in that it requires that the driver broke some other law in addition to DUI and that the driver’s negligence or illegal act resulted in the other person’s death, in order for these charges to be brought.
San Diego DUI With Injury Penalties
Although most San Diego DUIs are misdemeanor offenses, driving under the influence of alcohol and causing another person to be injured is one of three specific situations in which a DUI is a felony, the other two being having three prior DUI convictions within ten years or having a prior felony DUI conviction on your record. Just like any San Diego DUI case, the penalties associated with a DUI with injury charge can vary a great deal depending on several factors, including the details of the case and your criminal history, if any. Technically speaking, DUI with injury is a “wobbler,” which means the prosecutor has the discretion to charge the crime as a misdemeanor or felony. That being said, most DUI with injury offenses are prosecuted as felonies. If you are charged with felony DUI
causing injury in San Diego, you could face the following potential penalties:
- Two to four years in state prison (plus one additional consecutive year for each injured person, up to three years, and an additional three to six years if anyone, other than yourself, suffered great bodily injury),
- Up to $5,000 in fines, plus additional fees and costs,
- Three to five years of formal probation,
- Driver’s license revocation for five years,
- DUI school for 18 or 30 months,
- Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID),
- A strike on your criminal record,
- Habitual Traffic Offender status for three years,
- Restitution payments to injured victims, and
- Insurance ramifications.
DUI Aggravating Factors
In some cases, the San Diego court where your case is heard may impose a more serious punishment if there are additional aggravating factors involved in your DUI case. For instance, if you had an exceptionally high BAC, if you had a child in the car, if you were speeding, or if you refused a chemical test, you could face increased criminal penalties under California law.
Three Strikes Sentencing Law
There is a habitual offender law in place in California known as the “Three Strikes” sentencing law, which is designed to significantly increase the criminal penalties for offenders convicted of multiple serious or violent felony crimes, known as “strike priors.” Under this law, if you have one strike prior on your record, and you are convicted of felony DUI with injury, you could face twice the sentence otherwise required by the law. If you have two or more strike priors on your record, and you are convicted of felony DUI with injury, you could face an automatic prison sentence of 25 years to life.
DUI Expungement in San Diego
If you were convicted of misdemeanor DUI with injury in San Diego and you have fulfilled the terms and conditions of your probation, you may be able to get your conviction expunged, or set aside. Expungement is a type of post-conviction relief that can help misdemeanor offenders remove some of the restrictions that come with having a DUI conviction on their criminal record. For instance, if you get your DUI with injury conviction expunged, you would not be required to disclose the conviction or guilty plea when applying for employment. Keep in mind that even if your San Diego DUI with injury conviction is expunged, the offense will still count as a prior should you be arrested for a subsequent DUI crime within ten years.
Expungement is only available to offenders convicted of DUI crimes who have successfully completed probation and did not serve any time in prison for the offense, or did serve time in prison but would have served it in county jail had the offense taken place after the implementation of Proposition 47. If you are convicted of felony DUI with injury and your punishment requires time spent in state prison, you will not be eligible for expungement. However, with a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney on your side, you may be able to obtain a governor’s pardon or a certification of rehabilitation. Because DUI with injury is a wobbler offense, if you are convicted of felony DUI with injury and you did not serve time in prison for the crime, you can petition the court to have the felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor, at which point the conviction can be expunged.
San Diego DUI With Injury Defense
Facing DUI with injury charges in San Diego may feel like the end of the world, but the truth is that DUI charges are beatable. As dire as your situation may seem, you are still presumed innocent until proven guilty and the prosecution still bears the burden of proof in your case. That means the prosecutor must prove that you are guilty of the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt,” or to the extent that there can be no other reasonable explanation for the evidence presented at trial, except that you are guilty of the crime. In order to get a conviction for DUI with injury in San Diego, the prosecution must prove the following elements of the crime:
- You drove a vehicle,
- You were under the influence or had a BAC of 0.08% when you drove,
- While driving, you acted negligently or broke another law in addition to DUI, and
- Your negligence or illegal act caused injury to another person.
If your attorney can present a strong defense that calls into question the validity of the prosecution’s evidence against you, he or she may be able to get you acquitted.
Best Defense Strategies for DUI With Injury
The most important thing to remember is that a DUI arrest is not the same thing as a conviction, and just because you are facing DUI with injury charges in San Diego does not automatically mean you will be convicted of the crime. There are a number of possible defenses your attorney can present in court to establish reasonable doubt and help you beat the charges, including the following:
- You were not intoxicated at the time of the accident
- The accident was an unfortunate mistake
- The accident was not the result of driver error
- The accident was caused by another driver or outside force
- The accident did not cause the person’s injuries
How Our DUI With Injury Lawyers Can Help
With the exception of driver’s license suspension, all of the penalties associated with a DUI causing injury charge can be avoided or minimized if your attorney can get your DUI with injury charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge. At Sevens Legal, our DUI defense lawyers have extensive experience representing clients in all manner of DUI cases and we understand the importance of being proactive in the defense of our clients, no matter what charges they are facing. If our attorneys are able to settle your DUI case to your satisfaction, you may never have to set foot in a courtroom. If your case goes to trial, our legal team will work tirelessly to ensure that your legal rights are protected and advocate for your best interests throughout the duration of your criminal proceeding, from the moment you hire our firm to the conclusion of your case. Our attorneys at Sevens Legal have a clear understanding of California DUI law and we can help you get the best possible outcome in your case, whether that means getting the charges dropped, getting the DUI reduced to a wet reckless charge or negotiating a lighter sentence
Contacting Our San Diego DUI With Injury Lawyers
The state of California is cracking down on driving under the influence crimes and DUI with injury offenses in San Diego are prosecuted and punished harshly under the law, especially in cases where a third party suffers serious bodily injury or death. If you or a loved one is facing charges for misdemeanor or felony DUI with injury in San Diego or the surrounding areas, do not hesitate to protect your legal rights. Contact our knowledgeable San Diego DUI defense attorneys at Sevens Legal as soon as possible to begin building a credible defense against the state’s charges.