As a licensed driver in California, you’re aware of the fact that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal. If you’re caught driving under the influence, you can be arrested on the spot and charged with DUI. A DUI accident on the other hand, is worse than a standard DUI, isn’t it? It depends on the facts of the case.
Generally, a first-time DUI offense is prosecuted as a misdemeanor. “Does that mean a DUI accident is a felony in California?” Not necessarily. If the accident involved property damage only and there were no aggravating circumstances, it will likely be prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense. If any of the following “aggravated circumstances” are present, you can face stiffer penalties, or even felony DUI charges:
During the DUI incident, you:
- Cause serious bodily injury to someone else (felony DUI),
- Took another person’s life (felony DUI),
- Had a child under the age of 14 in your vehicle (child endangerment),
- Did not have a valid driver license, or
- Did not have valid automobile insurance.
WHAT IF THE ACCIDENT WASN’T MY FAULT?
As a DUI defense firm, it’s not unusual for someone to call us up and say, “I was in a car accident that wasn’t my fault. But after talking to me or smelling my breath, the officer had me take the field sobriety tests and a breath test and I was arrested for DUI. Is this legal?”
This can happen. You can have a drink or two at dinner and head home. Before you know it, a distracted driver is texting and she crashes into you. Or, a guy races through a red light, sideswiping your vehicle. When you call the cops, you’re the one arrested for DUI! Even if an accident was not your fault, you can still be arrested for DUI.
If you were arrested for DUI after being in a crash, whether you’re at-fault or not, we urge you to contact our firm to meet with Attorney Landry, a board-certified DUI defense specialist. Let us protect your license, your freedom, and your future.