An automobile accident was reported east of Santee this past weekend. An SUV, allegedly speeding, smashed into a car making a turn into a private driveway. The car was occupied by four people, all of whom apparently suffered injuries. One of the victims was badly injured, and it required the removal of an entire side of the vehicle before he could be removed from the wreckage and transported to a hospital. The report indicates that the driver of the SUV was arrested on suspicion of felony drunken driving.
There are several ways in which a DUI, ordinarily a misdemeanor offense, can be charged as a felony. One of those is where you are driving under the influence, and you cause a bodily injury to someone other than yourself. The offense is a wobbler, and may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. However, the situation in the Santee accident has an additional factor, and that is the injuries to the other three occupants of the car.
Under section 23558 of the Vehicle Code, there are enhanced penalties for injuries caused to multiple victims by a driver convicted of felony DUI. That provision states as follows:
“A person who proximately causes bodily injury or death to more than one victim in any one instance of driving in violation of Section 23153 of this code or in violation of Section 191.5 of, or subdivision (a) of Section 192.5 of, the Penal Code, shall, upon a felony conviction, and notwithstanding subdivision (g) of Section 1170.1 of the Penal Code, receive an enhancement of one year in the state prison for each additional injured victim.”
As a result, the charge, in order for the enhancement to apply, must be felony DUI. And if the defendant is convicted of felony DUI, four injured victims equates to an additional three years in the sentence.
The DUI laws in California are detailed and complicated. The nature of the charge (misdemeanor or felony) as well as the punishment (probation, jail, prison, enhancements, loss of license, etc.) are not easily determined. Accordingly, if you have been charged with DUI in the greater San Diego area, contact an attorney who specializes in representing clients facing DUI and related offenses. Call Spiegel Law Group today for a free consultation.
Spiegel Law Group
109 West C Street
San Diego, CA 92101