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Consequences of DUI Resulting in Bodily Injury in CA

An officer examines eyes of suspected drunk driver next to flashing cop car.
Consequences of DUI Resulting in Bodily Injury in CA

Consequences of DUI Resulting in Bodily Injury in CA

Every day, 32 people die in drunk-driving crashes in the U.S. Sadly, these fatalities are preventable—and yet the numbers continue to rise each year. From 2019 to 2020, the NHTSA saw a whopping 14% increase in drunk-driving fatalities on American roads. This is why it's crucial to know and obey the law to protect yourself and others.

Drunk, drugged, and distracted driving are reasons behind these statistics. Under California law, it’s a crime for a motorist to operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher (or 0.01% for underage drivers under the state’s Zero Tolerance policy) while behind the wheel, you can be charged with DUI. However, there are many cases where DUI charges are undeserved.

There are various reasons why people are unlawfully charged with a DUI, from lack of probable cause to physical disabilities to inaccurate breathalyzer tests. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, it’s essential to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can review your case and help defend your rights.

Understanding California DUI Laws

While many DUI charges are considered misdemeanors, it is possible to be charged with a felony if:

  • You have accrued 4 or more DUI offenses in a 10-year period.
  • The DUI resulted in bodily injury or death.
  • You have a prior felony DUI.
  • You receive a DUI with a minor in the car.

As you can imagine, felony charges entail significantly harsher penalties than misdemeanors. As the most serious type of criminal offense, a felony carries the possibility of prison time up to the death penalty. Moreover, a felony can severely restrict your individual freedoms, such as the liberty to travel abroad, own a firearm, and vote.

Defending Against DUI Charges

Assuming you hire a qualified criminal defense attorney, there are common reasons for defense against a DUI charge. Here are some common legal strategies that help reveal DUI charges as unjust:

  • Your breathalyzer or chemical test reading was inaccurate. Under California’s Implied Consent law, all motorists must submit to breath testing when they are pulled over and suspected to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, like most medical tests, a single test is rarely sufficient to determine the true level of alcohol in your system at a given time. Variances in human physiology make inaccuracy inevitable in some cases.
  • The officer didn’t conduct a 15-minute observation period. Before administering a breathalyzer or chemical test to measure BAC, an officer is required to observe you for 15 minutes. This is to prevent against “mouth alcohol” by making sure you don’t ingest any substances or regurgitate, as alcohol in the mouth can create an inaccurate BAC reading.
  • Your BAC was falsely inflated. Conditions such as hypoglycemia, diabetes, or a high protein diet can cause an inaccurate BAC reading, as ketones produced by your liver can be excreted in your breath.
  • The officer lacked probable cause to pull you over in the first place. If the officer didn’t have probable cause to pull you over or suspect you of drunk or drugged driving, this may render evidence invalid and offer a powerful defense in court.

What if My DUI Resulted in Bodily Injury?

If you were recently charged with a DUI that resulted in bodily harm, you may be wondering about the outlook of your case. Rest assured that a DUI resulting in bodily injury isn’t automatically considered a felony, although it can be depending on the court’s decision. This is why a DUI with injury is considered a “wobbler” offense, as it can go either way.

Generally, the distinction between misdemeanors and felonies depends on the severity of the bodily injury involved. Regardless of whether this is your first DUI offense, you can be charged with a felony if the DUI resulted in serious harm. If the injury sustained was non-traumatic, there’s a chance that you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor DUI with injury.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony DUIs: What’s the Difference?

In some instances, it’s possible to negotiate a plea deal to lower a felony DUI to a misdemeanor DUI. There are obvious reasons you’d want to do this considering the distinction in penalties between the two.

Consequences of misdemeanor DUIs causing injury can include:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to a $5,000 fine
  • Up to 5 years of probation
  • Court-ordered drug/alcohol courses
  • 1-3 years of driver’s license suspension
  • Community service
  • Paid restitution to injured victims

Consequences of felony DUIs causing injury can include:

  • Up to 3 years in prison (plus 1 additional year for each victim who suffered an injury and 3-6 additional years for each victim who suffered a severe injury)
  • Up to a $5,000 fine
  • 3 years as a habitual traffic offender
  • Up to 5 years of driver’s license suspension
  • Court-ordered drug/alcohol courses
  • Court-ordered alcohol/drug addiction treatment
  • Paid restitution to injured victims

How Can You Downgrade a Felony DUI Causing Injury?

In some cases, it is possible to negotiate a plea deal, which downgrades your felony DUI charge to a misdemeanor charge. Of course, this is largely dependent on your history and other outlying factors regarding your case. Keep in mind that if your DUI resulted in serious bodily injury, there is very little (if any) wiggle room for the court to reduce your charge to a misdemeanor.

Most importantly, it’s crucial to have a trusted DUI attorney in your corner who can effectively negotiate on your behalf. Here are some general ways that your attorney may be able to help lower your charge from a felony to a misdemeanor:

  • Using your lack of criminal history to your advantage
  • Accepting a plea bargain to a lesser offense
  • Completing a pretrial diversion program
  • Completing felony probation
  • Providing evidence that grounds for felony charges aren’t present

Our Oakland Attorney Is Here to Defend Your Rights

Our firm understands how terrifying it can be to face all the unknowns after receiving a DUI offense. It can be intimidating for the average person to consider an uncertain future after the shock of being charged with a crime. While this is an overwhelming time, rest assured that you’re not alone.

At the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed, we’re big believers that everyone deserves a second chance. Our compassionate DUI attorney is here to protect your rights and make sure the court hears your side of the story. We take pride in serving our clients in Oakland and the surrounding areas. Our team has a hard-earned reputation for digging into your case and leaving no stone unturned to achieve a favorable outcome in court.

Are you facing DUI charges in Oakland? We can help you stay out of jail. Call (510) 907-6600 or contact us online to request your consultation.