the State Bar of California
the San Diego Union-Tribune
The Press-Enterprise

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol Causing Bodily Injury

If you were driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and someone suffered bodily injury as a result of that conduct, the prosecution will most likely file felony charges against you. Much like an alcohol-related driving under the influence case, if you are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, you will likely be charged by the prosecuting agency with not one, but two separate offenses under the California Vehicle Code. The first charge is typically filed as a violation of section 23153, subdivision (a) and the second charge is usually a violation of section 23152, subdivision (b).

Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a “wobbler” offense, meaning that it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, at the discretion of the prosecuting agency. The decision to file felony versus misdemeanor charges depends largely on three things: (1) the particular facts and circumstances of the alleged conduct involved; (2) the extent of the injury suffered by the alleged victim; and (3) the alleged perpetrator’s prior criminal history, if any. Of significance will be whether the perpetrator has suffered any prior criminal convictions for driving under the influence, or “wet reckless” convictions within the past ten-year period, prior to the current arrest for driving under the influence causing bodily injury. If there were prior driving under the influence or related prior convictions within the past ten-year period, it is likely that whatever you were sentenced to in the prior case was an insufficient deterrent and the current case will be treated much more aggressively. It should be noted in California that any third or subsequent driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs causing bodily injury situation within the ten-year window will automatically be filed as a felony, pursuant to Vehicle Code section 23566.

These same factors outlined above will not only impact the prosecutor’s decision about whether to file the case as a misdemeanor versus a felony, but they will also have a significant impact on what penalties and punishments will result from a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs causing bodily injury. As a misdemeanor, the maximum possible custody time you could be sentenced to serve is one year in county jail. As a felony, the maximum possibly custody time you could be sentenced to serve is four years in state prison.

If the alleged victim suffered “great bodily injury,” meaning that the person suffered significant or substantial harm as defined under the law, the prosecution may allege an additional enhancement pursuant to Penal Code section 12022.7, subdivision (a), thereby adding three to six years of additional, consecutive custody time to your sentence. This acts as a sentencing enhancement in the current case and makes the offense a “strike” for purposes of California’s Three Strikes Law. This means that any other subsequent felony convictions could be doubly punished in the future as a result of this conviction.

If you have already been charged or anticipate being charged with DUI causing bodily injury in the Murrieta area, contact your Murrieta DUI lawyer at the Law Office of Julie Ann Baldwin, APC for your free, confidential case consultation now. Your future and your freedom deserve to be taken seriously by an experienced attorney who is committed to quality representation and compassionate advocacy, every step of the way.

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