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Arrested for DUI with Injury? Advice from a former D.A.

-Normally, if you’re charged
with DUI here in California, it’s only a misdemeanor. And oftentimes, on a first
offenses, there’s no jail time at all. But if you’re under the
influence and you cause an accident in which a third party
is injured, then you can be charged with felony DUI with
injury under Vehicle Code section 23153. And this crime, it it’s really
a wobbler, which means it could be filed as a misdemeanor
or a felony, depending on the
circumstances. But if it’s filed as a felony,
you could be sent to prison for up to four years, and
sometimes even more than that if it’s a very significant
injury that the person suffers. Now, how serious the case is
and what the sentence is likely to be really
depends on four factors in this situation. One is whether you have a prior
record, if you have prior DUIs. Secondly, how high
your BAC was. Third, how reckless
the driving was. So if you were going 100 miles
an hour down a suburban street and ran a stop sign or a red
light and it was very reckless driving, then it’s a lot more
serious, obviously. And fourth, the most important
factor in determining the seriousness of the case,
is the extent of injuries to the victim. If the person just suffered some
minor soft tissue injury, like some bruising or swelling,
then it’s probably going to be more like
a probation case. Maybe even a situation where
it would be easy to get the charge reduced to
a misdemeanor. But if the person suffers a real
serious injury, such as broken bones, or a concussion,
or paralysis, in that case, the prosecutor and the judge are
going to be looking at it much more like a state prison
case where they’re going to want the defendant to do a lot
of time sometimes years in California state prison. Now, that said, as serious as
these cases are oftentimes they can be surprisingly
difficult for the prosecutor to prove. Because a prosecutor really
has to prove two things. One that the person was
under the influence. And two that he or she is at
fault for the accident. And that’s not always clear. First of all, in terms of being
under the influence, a lot of times the cops will say
they got to the scene and that the suspect his speech
was slow and he was discoordinated. But a lot of times that can be
the result of injuries or shock that the person suffered
from being in the accident. And a lot of times we find that
there’s problems with the blood test, problems with the
breath test, mistakes in the officer’s DUI investigation. And the prosecutor can’t even
prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that our client was
under the influence. But secondly, and something
that gets lost on a lot of people, is that the prosecutor
has to prove that the defendant is the one who caused
the accident, or who was at fault for the accident. And say, for example, that I’m
driving down the street, middle of the day,
and I’m drunk. There’s no question. I’m a 0.20 BAC. And I’m driving through an
intersection on a green light. And somebody comes and runs a
red light and T-bones me, and hits me from the side. And that person suffers
major injuries. Well, in that situation, I may
be liable for drunk driving, but I’m not liable for
DUI with injury. Because I’m not the one at
fault for the accident. Merely the fact that I was
intoxicated and involved in an accident does not necessarily
mean that I’m the person at fault. And I can tell you from years
of doing this– and I spent five years as a prosecutor
and nine years now as a defense lawyer. And I’ve worked on literally
about 6,000 or 7,000 DUI cases. And in looking at these DUI with
injury cases, when the CHP or the local traffic
investigators go and investigate the accident, when
they find out somebody was drinking, they almost always
point the finger at the person who was drinking. They rush to judgment. They do a sloppy
investigation. And they just assume that the
person who had been drinking alcohol is at fault. But it’s not always the case. When we have one of these
cases, we always do an independent an accident
reconstruction with an independent investigator. And many times, we find that the
other person was at fault or maybe both parties
were at fault. Or maybe it was some third
independent factor that happened, such that the accident
was inevitable. But ultimately, our client
was not the one at fault. So, many times, it’s difficult
for the prosecutor to prove A, that our client was under the
influence, and or B, that our client was at fault. So if you’re charged with felony
DUI with injury as daunted as you may be, as
serious as the situation is, there are many things a defense
lawyer may be able to do for you. If you’re in this situation,
we encourage you to call us here at Shouse Law Group,
tell us your story. Let us investigate the case. Many times we’re able
to get these charges reduced or even dismissed.

Cesar Sullivan

2 thoughts on “Arrested for DUI with Injury? Advice from a former D.A.

  1. I would think if someone is impaired regardless of the evidence, the investigators try to pin it on the impaired driver.

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