Drunk driving is illegal because it is such a danger to the public. When that danger actually results in injuries, the penalties are greatly increased. If you have been involved in a DUI-related car accident that resulted in an injury, or even death, it is critical you contact a San Marcos DUI lawyer as soon as possible.
Are DUIs That Cause Injuries Felonies?
Just driving drunk and getting in an accident does not mean you committed a felony. The prosecutor must prove you drove DUI and violated a vehicle code which caused the accident resulting in injury to another. When the only injury is to the DUI driver then it is a misdemeanor, unless it is the fourth DUI in ten years or the driver had a felony DUI within 10 years. While a felony can be charged for an injury that only caused pain, sometimes the prosecutors will charge minor injury cases as misdemeanors. Even after filing felony charges, prosecutors and judges can reduce the charges to misdemeanors and often do that for minor injuries if the blood alcohol amount isn’t excessive and the driver doesn’t have past DUI’s. A past DUI not only statutorily increases a jail term but also substantially increases the chances of a person going to state prison. For first time offenders, serious injuries will often result in a multiple year prison term.
Additional Sentencing for Injuries
If the DUI is charged as a felony, you will face additional penalties including up to three years in prison. If the accident resulted in great bodily injury to a victim, you could be sentenced to an additional three years as well. If someone died as a result of the accident, you could even be charged with vehicular homicide and face a sentence of up to ten years.
DUI Accidents and Fault
It is important to remember that not all accidents that involve a drunk driver are the fault of the intoxicated driver. Unfortunately, police will often make this assumption, which is why it never hurts to use a dashboard camera.
Even if the accident wasn’t your fault though, it is a felony to leave the accident scene involving an injury without exchanging information and attempting to get aid. You can avoid charges related to hit and run accidents if you went to the hospital to seek medical attention for injuries affecting you or your passengers. While at the hospital though, you must provide information to hospital officials or the police about the accident so they can identify the other driver and provide them with your information. This is one of the best defenses to hit and run accidents and if you have evidence you went to the hospital and told officials about the accident, your Escondido DUI attorney can use this to fight related charges.
If you have been involved in an accident while driving drunk and someone was injured, it is critical you contact a Rancho Bernardo criminal lawyer as soon as possible. You can schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss by calling (760) 643-4050.
Creative Commons Image by Chris Yarzab