What Can Happen If I Injure Someone While Driving Under the Influence?

  • September 1, 2017

    An arrest for driving under the influence can bring with it significant consequences that have the potential to dramatically affect your life. Unfortunately, if you end up causing an injury to another person while driving under the influence, the consequences can be much more severe. Under California law, an intoxicated driver who injures another person will usually be subject to a felony DUI charge, and this felony charge brings with it much harsher penalties than the standard misdemeanor DUI charge.

    Injuries That Result from a DUI
    Although California penal code stipulates that a person who injures another during a DUI offense can be charged with a felony DUI, the specific factors and circumstances surrounding the case will play a major role in determining the outcome of the case and the potential penalties that the accused could face. Especially important are the type and extent of the injuries suffered as a result of the drunk driving incident.

    In this case, an injury could be anything from a few minor bruises to broken bones, internal bleeding and other more serious health issues that require hospitalization. In a DUI case, the judge will take the severity of the injuries into account when determining both the charges and penalties. In situations where the DUI offense caused more severe injury, it is likely that the prosecution will opt to charge the driver with a felony and also that the judge will decide to apply harsher penalties.

    Misdemeanor vs. Felony DUI Charges
    Cases where a DUI leads to bodily injury are tricky. No matter whether the injury was sustained by a passenger in your vehicle, another driver or a pedestrian, it will still be up to the prosecution to decide whether to charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony. In addition to the severity of the injury, the prosecution will generally take numerous other factors into account when deciding what to charge you with.

    Your blood alcohol concentration will be a primary factor, and if your BAC is well over the legal limit of 0.08 percent, it is much more likely that you will be charged with a felony. In addition, the court will usually look at your criminal record and any previous history of DUI. If you have a clean criminal history and have never been charged with a prior DUI offense, a skilled Los Angeles DUI lawyer may be able to convince the prosecution to go with the lesser charge of misdemeanor DUI in spite of the injuries you caused.

    Plea bargaining down to a charge of misdemeanor DUI can be hugely beneficial, as it will ensure that you face less severe consequences. Should you be charged with a felony DUI, you could potentially be sentenced to anywhere between two and four years in prison. In addition, you will likely face a fine of up to $5,000 and could have your driver’s license suspended for five years.

    Compared to the potential penalties you’d face for a misdemeanor DUI charge, a felony DUI charge will have much more damaging and long-lasting consequences for your life. A felony DUI conviction may see you lose your job and could make it much more difficult for you to find future employment as your DUI conviction will show up on any background check. A felony DUI can also make it more difficult to obtain a loan, get into college or be approved for car insurance.

    Even a misdemeanor DUI conviction can have serious consequences on your life. However, the potential penalties you’ll face for a misdemeanor DUI are nothing compared to what you might be facing if you are charged with a felony DUI. The good news is that a skilled DUI lawyer may be able to help you avoid a felony charge depending on the extent of the injuries and the circumstances surrounding your arrest. If the injuries you caused are severe, it is likely that you won’t be able to avoid the charge of felony DUI. Nonetheless, an experienced lawyer will still be able to plead your case and argue on your behalf to hopefully convince the judge to be lenient and give you a lesser sentence. For this reason, it is essential that you speak with a reputable Los Angeles DUI attorney immediately following your arrest.

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