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

An arrest for DUI with an accident in California can bring serious consequences. Find out everything you need to know here.

DUI With Accident in California


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

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 a person other than the drunk driver.

If you have been charged with DUI causing an injury, you’ll need an experienced DUI attorney by your side, who will 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, meaning it could be prosecuted either as a misdemeanor or a felony offense. That is determined by the circumstances surrounding DUI cases.

Simply driving under the influence, with a blood or breath alcohol level above 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, as well as order a license suspension.

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

What Happens After a Drunk Driving Car Crash?


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 are others involved in the crash. At that point, law enforcement officers will most likely notice that you are intoxicated.

They will ask you to perform some tests to confirm whether you have alcohol in your system. Law enforcement officers 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.

Penalties for DUI Crash 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, if one person in your vehicle or the other driver’s vehicle suffered minor injuries, you may be guilty of the misdemeanor, as long as you haven’t broken any traffic laws and the other driver was at fault. 

In order to be charged for 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 he or she caused. 

California Penal Code (section 192) defines vehicular manslaughter as driving a vehicle in an unlawful manner with gross negligence and thereby causing the death of another individual. The maximum penalty for vehicular manslaughter can include spending up to six years in state prison. But the length of the sentence would depend on whether the at-fault driver is a repeat DUI offender and if he or she has acted with ordinary or gross negligence. 

Whatever charge you are facing, don’t forget that prosecutors would 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. 

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 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. That is why hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney should be your first step if you are charged with a DUI. 


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

The state has enough time to formally file charges against you for DUI. 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 of the date it occurred.

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


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

Common DUI hit-and-run penalties would include fines of up to $10,000 and up to 4 years in state prison if the car accident victim suffered a serious injury or death. If, however, 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 there is no accident involved. For example, in Los Angeles, as well as in 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 installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID).

Under California law, consequences of a first-time DUI conviction can also 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 so serious 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 in order 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 Office of Christopher Chaney will stand by your side and make sure your rights are protected. Schedule a phone call with our lawyers or visit our law office in Van Nuys, CA 91401 for legal advice.

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