What to Expect from a DUI with Bodily Injury in California

In California, all DUI cases are viewed as serious offenses. But a driver charged with a DUI in which someone else suffered a bodily injury is subject to much more severe penalties and could face up to decades in prison, among other punishments.

All of the attention paid to DUI cases is rooted in the attempt to prevent injuries and deaths. When a DUI defendant appears before the California courts having allegedly caused a bodily injury to someone while driving under the influence, police, prosecutors, and judges pay special attention. Getting the best DUI defense lawyer in California on your side is essential to protect your freedom and livelihood.

Consequences of a DUI with Bodily Injury in California

Most criminal charges brought against a defendant in California can be categorized as either a misdemeanor or a felony. But some crimes are what are referred to as “wobblers” because the prosecutor can file the charge as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on their view of the circumstances involved and the severity of the injury.

If the case is filed as a MISDEMEANOR, the criminal statute[1] provides for these penalties:

– Minimum 5 days and up to one year in jail,
– Fines of up to $20,000,
– Driver’s license suspension for up to 3 years,
– Formal or informal (unsupervised) probation for three to five years,
– Completion of full California DUI School program,
– Payment of full restitution to each injured victim,
– Criminal conviction on your record

If the prosecutor files the DUI with Bodily Injury charge as a felony, the penalties are more severe:

– Up to 10+ years in state prison,
– Fines of up to $20,000
– Driver’s license suspension possibly for life
– One strike under California’s 3 Strike Law (if there is great Bodily Injury)   (more strikes if additional people were injured)
– Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) status for 3+ years,
– Up to 30 months DUI school
– Payment of full restitution to each victim
– Criminal conviction on your record

Collateral Consequences of DUI with Bodily Injury Conviction

Insurance Consequences of DUI with Bodily Injury

The out-of-court consequences of a California DUI with Bodily Injury charge can continue to haunt you for many years after the court case is over.

When a driver finally regains their driver’s license after a years-long period of suspension, buying insurance can seem like an insurmountable challenge. For wealthy drivers, the elevated premium costs may be acceptable. But for average Californians, the price of an insurance premium can increase on average by 94% after any DUI.[2]

If a regular non-injury DUI can raise insurance premiums by almost 100%, a DUI in which someone was injured or severely injured will only raise the cost even higher.

Personal Consequences of California DUI with Bodily Injury

Nothing in life happens in a vacuum. Criminal convictions have a rippling effect in every area of your life. Defendants who drive as part of their employment or who have important family obligations requiring them to provide transportation for children, elderly relatives, or ill family members face difficult problems.

Unfortunately, criminal convictions often damage family relationships and social connections. DUI cases generally bring a stigma to the accused driver, but a case that involves a serious injury to a victim carries a special level of disapproval in America.

Shame, disappointment, added financial burdens, and social isolation put pressure on even the strongest person. If a victim suffered what the law considers great injury, not only will the court’s sentence be higher, but the driver’s guilt will be equally painful.

Strong Defenses to a California DUI with Bodily Injury Charge

Every driver arrested and charged with DUI in California should reach out immediately to the most successful, skilled DUI defense lawyer in the state. Anyone charged with DUI with Bodily Injury faces more severe penalties than the average DUI case. At The Law Offices of Hart J. Levin, Attorney Levin and his associates specialize in DUI defense. As the #1 Ranked DUI Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles, Hart leads a small team of highly accomplished DUI defense lawyers whose success rate in obtaining favorable results for their clients is incomparable.

Defenses to DUI with Bodily Injury in California

While DUI cases are prosecuted with great energy by California prosecutors, experienced DUI defense lawyers know that the State must present evidence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the alleged crime.

Element of a DUI with Bodily Injury

In this case, DUI with Bodily Injury requires that the government prove the following elements:

1. The defendant drove a motor vehicle (moving even slightly)

2. a) When the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or a combination, to the degree that the driver’s physical or mental abilities were impaired to such a degree that they no longer had the ability to drive a vehicle with the caution a sober and ordinary person would use under the same or similar circumstances.


b) When the driver’s blood or breath alcohol content (BAC) was 0.08 or higher


3. The driver committed an unlawful act or neglected to perform a legal duty while driving the motor vehicle


4. The driver’s unlawful act or failure to act caused an injury to another person.

Successfully challenging the prosecution’s evidence on any one of these elements can prevent a conviction in a DUI with Bodily Injury case. The circumstances of every case are different and each defense depends on the facts involved.

When the evidence in each case is analyzed by DUI defense lawyers, the best lawyers identify the issues that will be problematic for the prosecutor to prove.

First, the basic proof of the DUI must be established by the state.
The evidence can be countered:

– Was there reasonable suspicion to suspect the driver was breaking a law?
– What facts led the officer to believe the driver was under the influence?
– Were field sobriety tests (SFSTs) administered?
– Did the officer administer the tests according to required protocols?
– Were the ground, lighting, and weather conditions suitable for SFSTs?
– Does the defendant have medical conditions related to observed conduct or perceived poor performance of SFSTs?
– Was a breathalyzer test conducted? After the required period of observation?

These challenges are only some of those involved in every DUI defense.

Second, the state must prove the existence of an injury.
This may seem like a simple task, but the nature and severity of the injury can play a key role in distinguishing between a misdemeanor and a felony prosecution. Thorough investigation of the injured person’s medical records can reveal that a claimed injury is far less severe than the alleged victim claims. We subpoena all medical records to determine if the injury is legitimate or can be fought against.

Third, the state must prove the driver committed an unlawful act or failed to perform a lawful duty while driving under the influence.
Proving that the alleged drunk or drugged driver also acted or failed to act in a manner required by law is an additional element of the offense. The prosecution could allege the driver violated a traffic safety law, ran a stop sign or red light, or drove too fast for the weather conditions. Any act of civil negligence might meet the burden of proof.

But proving it can be difficult without the right evidence. Is there video evidence or an eyewitness? Even injured victims often do not know what happened.

Defense of a California DUI with Bodily Injury Charge Requires Expert DUI Defense

Whether a misdemeanor or felony, DUI with Bodily Injury is a serious charge in California, one which could lead to incarceration, years of license suspension, and a lifetime of painful memories.

Contact the best DUI Defense Lawyer in California, Attorney Hart J. Levin. You won’t find a more experienced or more successful DUI defense law firm anywhere in California. You and your family deserve the most qualified and accomplished DUI defense specialist you can find.

[1] California Vehicle Code 23153

[2] Bankrate’s 2023 car insurance rates analysis

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