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VC-23153-IE-Criminal-Defens

I. California Vehicle Code 23153: Driving under the Influence/Driving with a BAC of .08 or higher


Legal Definition: A DUI can be found in multiple ways, but most commonly, you can be found guilty of a DUI if you are found to be driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or a drug or you are driving a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 or higher. In addition to these, you must also have caused an injury to another person based on an illegal act you performed.

For a person to be convicted of a violation of VC 23153(a), the prosecution must prove the following:

  1. You drove a vehicle/operated a vessel;
  2. When you drover/operated, you were under the influence of an alcoholic beverage/a drug) or were under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and a drug.
  3. While driving a vehicle/operating a vessel under the influence, you also committed an illegal act/neglected to perform a legal duty; AND
  4. Your illegal act/failure to perform a legal duty caused bodily injury to another person.

For a person to be convicted of a violation of VC 23153(b), the prosecution must prove the following:

  1. You drove a vehicle/operated a vessel;
  2. When you drover/operated, you drove with a BAC of .08 or higher;
  3. While driving a vehicle/operating a vessel under the influence, you also committed an illegal act/neglected to perform a legal duty; AND
  4. Your illegal act/failure to perform a legal duty caused bodily injury to another person.

California Vehicle Code 23153

II. What makes this different from a regular DUI offense?


The basic aspects of a DUI are still present in this charge, the only difference is there is an addition of injury to another person and causation. By that, it is clear that you were in an accident and either a passenger in your car or another driver, was hurt in the process of your driving. You cannot be charged with a DUI with injury if you are the only party injured.

In addition to this, you must also have some kind of illegal activity or failure to perform a legal duty which in turn, caused the injury to another person. Although this sounds complicated, it’s not. An illegal act, for example, can be something as simple as speeding, running a stop sign, or changing lanes without using a turn signal. It doesn’t even need to be that blatant as an actual traffic infraction, it can be something as simple as swerving within your lane, without crossing the lines into another lane. That, in addition to being under the influence, would be what is considered an illegal act.

Failing to perform a legal duty is a bit different. That can generally be something like having a child in your car, but forgetting to put their seat belt on, and they got injured in your DUI crash. Another example could be you were going the speed limit, when the conditions were bad, like if it were raining outside. A final example could be you pulling out of a parking lot onto the main road, failing to look both ways, and cutting a car off, which leads that car into a car accident.

III. Penalties


If convicted of a violation of VC 23153(a)/(b), as a felony, you could be sent to State Prison for upwards of two years, three years, or four years. You would be required to serve 50% of that sentence but could receive a Strike, if alleged, on your record. You would also be subject to the same fines and fees, as well as an 18-month DUI class as you would in a misdemeanor DUI conviction. You would also suffer a Driver’s License suspension of up to five years with a conviction here.

Depending on the severity of the injury, you could also receive a misdemeanor conviction under this section, which would subject you to up to one year in county jail, and no strike since it would be a misdemeanor offense. In addition, if the injuries are that severe, in addition to a felony, you could receive an Enhancement of causing Great Bodily Injury and be subject to an additional three years in State Prison per victim.

IV. Defenses


  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Violation of your Rights

The same basic DUI offenses apply to this offense as under VC 23152. However, here you have the additional elements of showing that you caused the accident through something you did wrong while driving. This means you have to commit some kind of traffic violation, in addition to driving under the influence, to prove you guilty of this added offense. For example, if you are driving under the influence one evening, and a car runs a run light and hits you, causing severe damage to yourself and to the other driver, you cannot be found guilty under this section. In this scenario, you did not perform an illegal act, the other driver did. Therefore, you can only be found guilty of a DUI, not the more extensive DUI with Injury charge.

Many times police like to simply assume that because you were a DUI driver, you are therefore always the cause of the accident. But that is not enough here, and these cases are almost always fightable because police skip over these crucial elements. If police can only show an accident occurred, and that you were drinking, that would not be enough to convict you of a violation of this section. They must show you committed an illegal act or neglected a legal duty in order to convict you of this charge.

I have dealt with many Ontario DUI, Rancho Cucamonga DUI, and Riverside DUI cases, where we’ve been able to successfully show that either the driver of the vehicle was not at fault for the accident. Either they did not commit an illegal act or did not neglect a duty, or the other driver was at fault. An accident is not intentional, that is why sometimes these happen with no fault on either side. Without being able to prove the “fault” aspect of a DUI with Injury, cases have been reduced down to Misdemeanor violations of a DUI. This is why having the right Ontario DUI attorney matters, and can attack this defense, claiming there is insufficient evidence to prove that you were at fault and rather, that you are guilty of a simple DUI offense.

V. Call Today


A DUI with an injury can be devastating. It comes with it a significant amount of custody time, and if the injuries are severe with multiple injured parties, you could be looking at a double-digit Prison term. But not all hope is lost here. I have been successful in many of my DUI with Injury cases by arguing the missing elements of the illegal act or neglecting a legal duty. If charged with this crime and those elements are missing, a Preliminary Hearing (for Felonies only) is a perfect way to present the evidence to a Judge to show that even if you were driving drunk and got in an accident, you did not cause the accident, that you cannot be guilty of this charge. I have argued and been successful many times arguing to Judges that the elements just simply are not there. You need someone who has experience arguing these elements, it could save your life. Our DUI with Injury Ontario attorney has successfully defended numerous cases involving violations of VC 23153 and other equally serious DUI cases. The initial consultation is free and we are available to answer your questions 24/7. Call the Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-939-7126! Located in Ontario, CA.

Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor should it be considered the formation of a lawyer or attorney-client relationship. If you would like to find out more information about your particular legal matter, contact our office for a consultation.

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