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DUI Causing Injury

Vehicle Code 23153 VC - DUI Causing Injury in California

California Vehicle Code 23153 covers the crime of DUI causing injury, which is the law that makes traditional driving under the influence much more severe.

This crime is described as when someone was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and causes physical harm to another person.  

Vehicle Code 23153 VC - DUI Causing Injury in California

VC 23153 can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, called a "wobbler.” California has numerous laws for driving under the influence, such as:

  • Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC - driving under the influence;
  • Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC- driving with a blood alcohol content 0.08% or more;
  • Vehicle Code 23152(f) VC - driving under the influence of drugs.

California Vehicle Code 23153(a) and 23153(b) legally defines DUI causing injury as "It's unlawful for somebody, while under the influence of alcohol or drug, or .08% of alcohol in their blood (BAC), to drive a vehicle and commit an illegal act, or neglect a duty imposed by law, that causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.”

Vehicle Code 23153(a) VC makes it illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol resulting in an injury despite their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). 

Vehicle Code 23153(b) VC depends on the scientific determination that the drivers had a blood alcohol concentration at the time of driving that was .08 by weight or higher.

To be found guilty under VC 23153(a), the prosecutor must prove you could not drive with the ordinary caution of a sober driver, which is covered under California criminal Jury Instructions 2100.

Under the law, you must act negligently, or break the law, on top of driving under the influence. This means it has to be proven that your negligence caused an injury to another person. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will examine this topic in greater detail below.

What is the Standard Misdemeanor DUI?

California Vehicle Code 23152 VC is the common law used to charge someone with DUI without any aggravating circumstances.

The prosecution must prove that you drove a car “under the influence of any alcoholic beverage.” You were operating the vehicle under the influence if you had a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher. The law reduces the level to .04 percent if you are a commercial vehicle driver.

Under Vehicle Code 23538 VC, the punishments for a first-time DUI offense without aggravating circumstances are:

  • up to six months in county jail,
  • a fine between $390 and $1,000,
  • probation for three to five years, and
  • up to nine months of DUI education.

What is the Aggravated Offense of DUI Causing Injury?

If you commit a DUI crime and cause someone's injury, you will face either misdemeanor or felony criminal charges under Vehicle Code 23153. The factors considered are the seriousness of the injury and other factors.

A DUI-causing-injury crime includes being under the influence of any alcoholic beverage, driving and breaking the law, neglecting a duty, and causing injury.

The defendant must have been intoxicated, and the law presumes if their blood alcohol content was at least .08 percent or .04 percent for commercial or passenger-transport drivers. The elements of the crime for Vehicle Code 23153 of DUI causing injury are:

  • defendant drove a vehicle;
  • when driving, they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • defendant committed an illegal act or neglected to perform a legal duty;
  • the illegal act or failure to perform a legal duty caused bodily injury to another person.

What is The Aggravated Offense of DUI Causing Death?

If the defendant commits a DUI and then causes someone's death, then the prosecutor could file felony DUI charges under Penal Code 191.5 PC.

DUI Causing Death in California

Vehicular manslaughter occurs without the defendant's malice aforethought, a reference to the intention to kill.

Still, a prosecutor must prove gross negligence or the defendant's commission of an unlawful act.

In some severe cases, prosecutors could charge a felony DUI crime causing death under Penal Code 187, a second-degree murder charge known as a Watson murder, after the California Supreme Court case of that name.

The Watson case held that drunk driving with a prior driving conviction could be considered the malice aforethought needed for a Penal Code 187 second-degree murder conviction.

What Are the Penalties for DUI Causing Injury?

Anyone charged with a misdemeanor DUI causing injury will be facing a:

  • minimum of five days and up to one year,
  • along with a fine between $390 and $5,000,
  • DUI school,
  • vehicle ignition interlock device, and
  • license suspension and restriction.

If convicted of a felony DUI causing injury, the defendant will be facing;

  • two, three, or four years in prison,
  • a fine between $1,015 and $5,000,
  • up to thirty months of DUI school,
  • driver's license revocation, and
  • victim restitution.

If the victim suffered a great bodily injury, the penalties would increase to three to six years in prison, with an additional one year for each person suffering an injury. A DUI causing death carries life in prison and a strike under the three-strikes law. You could be ordered to wear a SCRAM device.

What Are the Related California Crimes?

Suppose the prosecution can't prove a defendant's unlawful driving or driving in neglect of duty, causing injury. In that case, they will typically face charges under the standard DUI statute Vehicle Code 23152 VC for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Further, the prosecution could also make a plea bargain the case to a reckless driving offense under Vehicle Code 23103 VC. Some other crimes include:

What Are the Best Legal Defenses for this Crime?

If you are charged with VC 23153 DUI causing injury, our criminal attorneys could potentially use a variety of strategies to fight the case, such as:

  • the chemical test was inaccurate,
  • you didn't cause the other driver's injuries,
  • there were constitutional rights violations.

Perhaps we can show evidence to contest that the intoxicated driving was not the cause of the other person's injury.

Best Legal Defenses for DUI Causing Injury

Perhaps we challenge with evidence that the defendant didn't commit an unlawful act or neglect a lawful duty while driving. Maybe the other driver was at fault.

We may contest the underlying allegation that the defendant was intoxicated by challenging the administration or interpretation of alcohol testing.

Maybe we can argue that the chemical test administered was as not accurate due to poor calibration, maintenance, or improper technique which was performing the test. Perhaps we can argue that the police violated your rights during a traffic stop.

Through prefiling negotiations, perhaps we can persuade the prosecution not to file formal criminal charges in the first place based on mitigating factors, known as a “DA reject.” If guilt is not in doubt, perhaps we can reach a favorable plea bargain. Cron, Israels & Stark is located in Los Angeles, California. We offer a free case review by phone or use the contact form.

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