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What to Know if You’re Charged With DUI With an Accident in California

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DUI Car Accident in California

Being arrested or charged with a DUI offense in California carries significant penalties. But, causing an accident while under the influence of alcohol or drugs increases the penalties substantially.

Penalties for a DUI with injury depend on how serious the injuries the victims have suffered are and the extent of their injury. So, a simple misdemeanor DUI can be raised into a felony DUI if an injury has been inflicted on someone other than the drunk driver.

If you have been charged with DUI causing an injury, you’ll need an experienced DUI attorney to help you with the defense strategies and find the best possible solution for your DUI case in Los Angeles County.

What Happens if You Get in an Accident While Drunk in Van Nuys, CA?

Southern California prosecutes DUI charges under California Vehicle Code section 23152 or 23153. It is a wobbler crime, which could be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony offense. That is determined by the circumstances surrounding DUI cases.

Driving under the influence, with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.08%, would be prosecuted as a misdemeanor.

On the other hand, causing or being involved in a drunk driving accident with a blood alcohol level of 0.08%, in which someone other than the intoxicated driver was injured, would most likely be prosecuted as a felony.

A DUI arrest would trigger a legal procedure in a criminal court and a hearing in front of the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). While the DMV can only suspend the offender’s license, CA courts can impose criminal penalties and fines and order a license suspension.

Remember that California courts consider that some DUI cases involving accidents may have the option of punitive damages. That means a victim of a DUI with an injury accident may seek punitive damages along with compensation for medical expenses and lost wages from the at-fault driver.

Importance of Hiring a DUI Lawyer in Van Nuys, CA

The best chance you have to defend yourself against a DUI charge is to hire a knowledgeable DUI lawyer. An experienced DUI attorney can help you possibly reduce the charges to a lesser offense and negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor.

For those accused of a DUI offense with an injury, the maximum penalties can include fines, probation, community service, and even time in jail. But when you hire a DUI lawyer, they can help significantly reduce the consequences of your DUI arrest.

The complexity of DUI laws in California also justifies the importance of hiring an experienced attorney. With multiple hearings associated with a DUI charge, the legal process can be overwhelming for those who don’t understand the legal system.

A DUI attorney in Van Nuys, CA, can help you fight for your rights and work on the best solution in your case. Furthermore, DUI attorneys may be able to help you with the DMV hearing so your license doesn’t get suspended and you have more negotiating power with the prosecutor.

What Happens After a Drunk Driving Accident?

If you have caused a motor vehicle accident while under the influence, you must call the police. When officers arrive, they will start interviewing witnesses and check how hurt those involved in the crash are. At that point, law enforcement officers will most likely notice that you are intoxicated.

They will ask you to take a breathalyzer or do a field sobriety test to check if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

You have the right to refuse to perform these tests in some cases. But beware; you can face additional penalties for refusing and still face DUI charges along with charges for other potential traffic offenses.

If you have been charged with DUI involving an accident, contacting a qualified and experienced attorney who will fight for your rights is highly recommended. Attorney Chaney is an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney who can help you with your case and develop a defense strategy to reduce or dismiss the charges.

Penalties for DUI Accidents in California

If you were driving under the influence and caused an accident in which one or more people got injured, there are several potential charges you may face:

  • Misdemeanor DUI causing injury
  • Felony DUI causing an injury
  • Vehicular manslaughter

For example, suppose one person in your vehicle or the other driver’s vehicle suffered minor injuries. In that case, you may be guilty of the misdemeanor if you haven’t broken traffic laws and the other driver was at fault.

To be charged with a felony, the prosecution has to prove that not only was your BAC level 0.08% or higher but also that you have violated a traffic law or acted with negligence that caused the accident that resulted in injury.

Penalties for DUI with injury depend on how many people are hurt in the crash and how severe these injuries are. Among others, these penalties include up to 3 years in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, DUI probation for up to 5 years, and a one-year suspension of driver’s license.

However, if the victim injured in the accident has suffered severe bodily injury, additional years of imprisonment may be added, even if this is the first offense. The intoxicated at-fault driver will face even more severe penalties if someone has been killed in the accident that they caused.

California Penal Code (section 192) defines vehicular manslaughter as unlawfully driving a vehicle with gross negligence, thereby causing another individual’s death. The maximum penalty for vehicular manslaughter can include spending up to six years in state prison.

But the sentence length would depend on whether the at-fault driver has a prior DUI conviction and if they have acted with ordinary or gross negligence.

Whatever charge you are facing, don’t forget that prosecutors often push for the highest penalties possible, even if the facts don’t fully support that. It’s best to have a skilled DUI attorney present the circumstances of your case so nothing is overlooked. That attorney may be able to reduce or dismiss the charges altogether.

Consulting a DUI attorney is your best chance at getting the most favorable outcome for your case. Attorney Chaney has years of experience defending DUI charges and will fight for you to get the best possible result. Contact him today to discuss your case.

Can You Get a DUI Days After an Accident?

Actually, yes, you can. You can be charged with a DUI several days after, even if the police officer didn’t see you. Witness accounts, video or photographic evidence of you driving, or property damage you caused while driving could be the evidence used against you.

Even if you got home safe, law enforcement could still find evidence to charge you. Hiring experienced criminal defense lawyers should be your first step in facing DUI charges. They will inform you of your rights, determine your best defense, and navigate through all the legal proceedings on your behalf.

How Long After an Accident Can You Be Charged With DUI?

The state has enough time to file charges against you for DUI formally. The statute of limitations for misdemeanors is one year and three years for felonies.

That means a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence can be filed within one year of the date it occurred, while a DUI felony charge must be filed within three years.

What Is the Penalty for a DUI Hit and Run in California?

If an individual were driving under the influence, causing a car accident, and leaving the accident scene, they would most likely be charged with a DUI and a hit-and-run. These charges combined are taken seriously by judges and prosecutors.

Common DUI hit-and-run penalties include fines of up to $10,000 and up to 4 years of jail time in state prison if the car accident victim suffered a serious injury or death. If the accident caused a minor bodily injury, the intoxicated driver would spend up to a year in jail.

If these accidents involved only property damage, the driver at fault would have to pay a fine.

DUI Accident California First Offense in Van Nuys, CA

For a California DUI, penalties are less harsh when no accident is involved. For example, in Los Angeles and Van Nuys, potential punishment includes spending six months in jail, paying up to $1,000 in fines plus penalty assessments, driver’s license suspension for six months, and installing an Ignition Interlock Device (IID).

Under California law, consequences of a first-time DUI conviction can include up to 5 years of DUI probation and mandatory DUI school for several months. Depending on the county, community service or labor may also be imposed.

Although these penalties don’t sound as severe as those for a DUI accident, they certainly shouldn’t be handled without the help of an experienced DUI attorney. They will know what steps should be taken to keep your driving privileges and try to dismiss or reduce charges.

If you have caused a car accident while driving under the influence in Van Nuys, California, don’t wait. Retain the services of a Van Nuys DUI attorney as soon as possible. Regardless of the circumstances of your DUI case, you are not alone.

A Van Nuys criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney will stand by your side and ensure your rights are protected. Schedule a phone call with our lawyers or visit our law office in Van Nuys, CA, 91401, for legal advice.

Schedule Your Consultation

Regardless of your circumstance, you are not alone in your fight. We are ready to stand by your side and fight for your rights, freedom, and reputation. Contact us today to schedule a free remote or in-person consultation, and let us assist you in finding a solution to your problem.