Can I successfully fight DUI causing injury charges?
In the face of driving under the influence (DUI) charges, it is easy to feel that there is no way to avoid a conviction. You may have taken and failed
field sobriety tests or a
breath test, but this does not mean that all hope is lost. There are ways to effectively challenge DUI charges, and a skilled
Orange County DUI attorney can assert your constitutional rights and protect your interests to give you the best opportunity at a positive case result.
Here, we will consider how to challenge criminal charges filed under California Vehicle Code § 23153, "Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Drugs Causing Injury." Described in laymen's terms, this offense occurs when:
A driver, while with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater or while with abilities that are impaired by alcohol and/or drugs, violates the law or acts negligently and causes an accident that leaves another person injured. A commercial driver may face these charges for the same offense with with a BAC of .04% or greater.
Key Factors to Challenge Under California VC § 23153
In fighting DUI causing injury charges, it is important to look at a breakdown of this offense as outlined in California VC § 23153. There are three key aspects to this charge:
Was the driver intoxicated? The issue to address is whether the driver was "under the influence" of alcohol or drugs at the time of the collision. To be considered under the influence, the driver must have had a BAC of .08% or greater, as proven by a
breath or blood test, or the driver must have had abilities that were impaired by alcohol or
drugs, as proven by field sobriety tests, observations by the arresting officer and possibly other evidence. It is not enough for a driver to have simply been involved in or even caused an
accident to face DUI causing injury charges. The prosecutor must prove that the driver was under the influence at the time of the accident.
Did the driver also violate a traffic law or act negligently? According to VC § 23153, the driver must "concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle" to have violated this section. In addition to being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, the driver must have violated a law or acted with neglect and thus caused injury to another person. This may include such acts as speeding, tailgating, failing to yield the right of way or texting while driving. To secure a conviction for DUI causing injury, the prosecutor must prove that the driver committed such an act.
Did that unlawful act or negligence injure another person? The third and final aspect of a DUI causing injury charge is linking the unlawful act or incident of neglect with the accident and the victim's injuries. The prosecutor must show how the driver's violation of the law or act of negligence led to the accident and therefore the victim's injuries.
In fighting criminal charges for DUI with injury, we will work to challenge these three key issues. The approach we take will vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, but the primary focus will most likely be disproving that a driver was under the influence at the time of the collision. We will look to question the validity of field sobriety tests, the arresting officer's statement and a breath or blood test to show that our client was not intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. We will also investigate the sequence of events leading up to the collision to determine how to show that our client did not violate a law or act with neglect.
Building an effective defense against DUI charges such as these requires a multi-faceted approach and considerable resources. Luckily, we at the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry have the know-how and manpower to thoroughly investigate our clients' cases and therefore build strong cases on their behalf. To find out more about our Orange County DUI defense firm and how we can help you, please call for a free consultation and case review.