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Drunk Driving Causing Injury: California Vehicle Code Section 23153

Recently, a young San Diego man was arrested after an intoxicated pedestrian stepped into oncoming traffic and was struck by his car, according to 10news.com. The pedestrian suffered a broken leg and arm and the driver was later arrested for felony hit and run because he left the scene. What if the driver had consumed an alcoholic beverage before this incident? He may have also been charged with DUI causing injury in addition to his current charges.

In San Diego and throughout California, if a person drives while under the influence of alcohol and/or a drug, and while driving either broke a law (other than DUI) or acted in a negligent manner, and that unlawful act or negligence injures another person, the prosecutor can bring charges under California Vehicle Code Section 23153. This statute is called a “wobbler” because it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Under CA Vehicle Code Section 23153, the driver is under the influence, if as a result of drinking an alcoholic beverage, (and/or taking a drug), his or her mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is no longer able to drive with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances, (see California Jury Instructions, CALCRIM 2100).

So, if the prosecutor can prove that the driver would have been able to avoid hitting the drunk man who fell off the curb right into his driving path if he did not consume an alcoholic beverage or drugs, the driver could be charged with DUI causing injury.

The penalty for a misdemeanor DUI causing injury could include: Up to five years of informal, summary probation; Five days to a year in jail; $390-$5,000 in fines; A court-approved DUI program for three, nine, eighteen, or thirty months; One to three years suspension of your California driver’s license; And, restitution to the injured parties.

The penalty for a felony DUI causing injury could include: State prison sentence of two, three, or four years; Additional and consecutive three to six year prison sentence if any victim suffers great bodily injury; Additional and consecutive one year sentence for each additional person that suffers any injury (three year maximum); A “strike” on your record if anyone other than the driver suffers great bodily injury; $1,015-$5,000 in fines; A court-approved DUI program for eighteen or thirty months; Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) status for three years; And, five year revocation of your California driver’s license.

The consequences for a DUI causing injury is severe. If you, or someone you know, has been arrested for violating California VC Section 23153, contact a drunk driving attorney in your area. Protect yourself and get help immediately!

The above blog is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may change and may not apply to your case. For the latest information or to get legal advice, speak to a DUI attorney in your area.


You should call the Law Offices of Susan L. Hartman right now at 619-260-1122 to learn more about fighting your DUI! Our office is in Mission Valley, but we handle cases in San Diego, Orange, and Riverside Counties.