It is prohibited to operate a vehicle while under the influence of any alcoholic drink, according to California Vehicle Code 23152(a). “Under the influence” indicates that your physical or mental functions have been impaired to the point where you are no longer capable of driving a vehicle with the caution of a sober driver, exercising reasonable diligence, under comparable situations.
Furthermore, anyone with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 or greater is prohibited from operating a motor vehicle. This implies that even if your driving ability is unaffected by your degree of intoxication, operating a car with a BAC of .08 or more is still illegal.
You may face harsh legal implications if you are involved in a car accident while driving intoxicated. DUI in California is a wobbler violation, which means that authorities can prosecute you with a criminal offense based on the facts of your case.
Here are some key points to remember about serious offenses and sentence increases in DUI-related incidents, injuries, property destruction, and fatalities.
Contact Louis J. Goodman today to get a free no obligation consultation for your DUI case.
DUI Accidents without Injury
A rear-ender is a common type of collision in which nobody is hurt. Although two cars crashed and considerable damage was caused, everyone was unharmed.
You are unlikely to face any charges besides a DUI in these conditions (plus any traffic rules that were violated). As if there had been no mishap at all, you will suffer the same upper and lower limits punishments. The prosecutor, on the other hand, will pursue a punishment on the upper end of said ranges.
A first-time DUI, for instance, can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to half a year. If there isn’t any mishap, you may be sentenced to the bare minimum punishment of two days in prison. Even if no one was wounded, the prosecution may pursue three to six months in prison if there would be an accident.
DUI Accidents Involving Minor Injuries
If anyone engaged in the collision, including your own companions, files an injury, your case alters. When minor injuries occur, the offense is upgraded to violation DUI Causing Injury, which involves a longer term. It entails a min five-day prison term and a one-year loss of license, along with the standard DUI punishments. You would also be required to pay the fines and reparations to the parties who have been injured. It’s worth noting that if you’ve had past DUI arrests, particularly DUI Causing Injury convictions, you might face a more severe accusation with even harsher consequences.
What constitutes a “small” injury is a matter of opinion. Nausea, severe bruising, or a tiny cut from shattered windscreen glass are examples of minor injuries.
Increased Punishments for DUIs Resulting in an Accident
The spectrum of punishments you’ll encounter for a motor vehicle accident under the influence is determined by legislation and is based on your previous DUI offenses. However, most state statutes include aggravating circumstances that can raise the standard penalties for a DUI arrest. And the conditions of an incident, even if they aren’t considered aggravating by the law, might influence plea negotiations and the punishments courts decide to apply.
A DUI accident might potentially result in criminal penalties besides being charged with a DUI accusation.
Accidents Caused by DUI and Other Exacerbating Factors
Injury, property damage, and fatalities are usually the triggering elements in places where there are DUI enhancements for accidents. In other regards, the upgrades are a result of the harm caused by the accident, not the accident itself.
A DUI with accident-related injuries, for example, can be charged more harshly than a simple DUI.
In California, a DUI (driving under the influence) that causes serious bodily harm is known as a “aggravated DUI.” A first-time DUI is usually considered a misdemeanor. Although the judge’s decision is based on your individual circumstances, the maximum punishment of six months in prison and a $1,000 fine for a DUI charge is rarely imposed. In California, a person convicted of a first DUI faces fines ranging from a $390 fine which is convertible to 13 days of Cal-Trans highway labor or 13 days in prison.
Each state has its own set of guidelines when it comes to DUI enhancements due to accidents. However, there is a general consensus that these enhancements considerably increase the possible penalties a driver might face if charged with DUI.
DUI Accidents and Sentencing Discretion
When a defendant is guilty of a DUI, the court gets to determine what sanctions to inflict, as long as they are within the legal limits. Judges often examine the aggravating and contributing factors of the incident and the defendant when making this decision.
A DUI accident is likely to be considered a significant strike against the offender by a court, especially if there were major injuries or deaths. As a result, judges in DUI situations involving accidents are more likely to impose harsher penalties.
Assume someone is charged with their first DUI in California. A first DUI can result in a sentence of five days to one year in prison. A judge could be tempted to use the five-day minimum for first-time offenders. However, if a first offender causes an accident that results in injuries, the court is more likely to impose a term that is closer to the maximum of one year.
How a DUI Accident Affects a Driver’s Capability to Plead Guilty
Plea negotiation is used to resolve the vast majority of DUI cases. The purpose of plea negotiating for the defendant is to get an agreement that is in the lower range of the permitted penalties. Judges, on the other hand, are usually only ready to accept this sort of plea agreement in circumstances where there are no significant aggravating elements. When a DUI incident involves an accident, the plaintiff’s chance to reach a favorable plea agreement is severely hampered.
DUI-related incidents, injuries, and fatalities often result in criminal charges.
If there are injuries or deaths as a result of a drunk driving event, the liable motorist may face penalties in addition to a DUI charge.
In certain places, drivers who cause injury to another person negligently (or while under the influence) can be prosecuted with vehicular assault. When a drunk driver kills another person, accusations of vehicular manslaughter or even murder may be filed.
All of these violations are usually felonies and they come with hefty jail sentences and hefty fines. Furthermore, drivers who are charged with several crimes are usually subjected to different sentences for each offense.
Was it you who caused the Accident?
Note that just because you were driving while inebriated doesn’t necessarily mean you were the one who caused the incident. For instance, if you were stopped at a red light and a vehicle rear-ended you, they are responsible. Whether you were drunk or not, they would have hit you.
Authorities may find it difficult to establish that you were the cause of an accident. What appears to be a hopeless case may frequently alter radically after a DUI lawyer begins investigating on your behalf. When a DUI lawyer intervenes, a case that started out as a DUI Causing Injury charge is often lowered to a typical DUI, or even Reckless Driving.
When you engage a DUI lawyer, they will examine all aspects of the accident—road circumstances, environment, and how the cars collided—to determine whether there is any proof that you were to blame.
Defenses that Can Be Used
If you have been arrested with any of these felonies, as a result of a DUI accident, you should contact a professional DUI lawyer immediately. A professional DUI lawyer will be familiar with the legal defenses to these criminal accusations and can assist you in retaining your driver’s license. Among the possible defenses are:
- At the time of the occurrence, you were not intoxicated. Your behavior did not result in damage or death.
- At the time of the incident, you did not act irresponsibly.
A felony charge can severely restrict your freedom. If you are convicted, your future can be limited. You may lose your eligibility for state housing, food assistance, and/or educational funding, for example. Even if you are innocent of the allegations, clearing your name might be tough.
Furthermore, if properly handled by an experienced attorney, even a successful trial might damage your reputation. As a result, anybody accused with a crime should contact an Alameda County criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A criminal defense attorney can help you safeguard your rights and provide you peace of mind.
Finally, a qualified criminal lawyer will try to get the accusations against you dismissed or reduced. Contact The Law Offices of Louis J. Goodman if you have been accused of a crime in Alameda County, California. Mr. Goodman has over thirty years of work experience as a criminal defense attorney in the area.
Our criminal defense firm knows what techniques can reduce your risk. Louis J Goodman is a former Alameda County Deputy District Attorney. We can review evidence, evaluate reports, and cross-question witnesses with the help of a competent team. If required, our criminal defense attorney in Alameda County can work with prosecutors to safeguard your rights.
Contact Louis J. Goodman today to get a free no obligation consultation for your DUI case.