DUI Involving an Accident​ in Orange County

DUI Involving an Accident​ in Orange County

DUI Involving an Accident​ in Orange County

Drivers have a duty to drive safely and carefully and abide by all traffic laws. However, they cannot do this if they are under the illegal influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and other controlled substances may alter a driver’s mindset, preventing them from operating their vehicle safely.

Alcohol, in particular, may slow down a driver’s central nervous system, causing the driver to experience delayed reflexes and reaction time. Intoxicated drivers may also experience physical symptoms, including vision problems, which prevent them from seeing or appreciating an approaching vehicle or pedestrian.

Given the dangers of drinking and driving, it is no wonder that intoxicated drivers frequently cause traffic accidents. These accidents often produce serious and sometimes fatal injuries for accident victims. Serious crashes are especially common when intoxicated drivers travel at high speeds. An intoxicated driver who speeds may also quickly lose control over their vehicle, causing it to careen out of control and strike another vehicle or pedestrian.

Whenever an intoxicated driver causes an accident that leads to injuries, they may incur significant penalties upon conviction, including high monetary fines, probation, or even jail time, depending on the circumstances and the sentencing judge handling their case. The ordinary penalties for a DUI may increase significantly if the intoxicated driver causes a traffic accident.

If you are currently facing criminal charges for DUI, you must have skilled legal counsel representing you at every stage of your case. A lawyer can meet with you to discuss the circumstances of your DUI accident and arrest and develop a legal strategy for moving your case forward.

Your attorney can help you determine if you might be eligible to raise one or more legal defenses to prevent the state prosecutor from establishing their legal burden of proof in your case. If a particular defense is successful in court, the prosecutor may drop your DUI charge, and you will not receive a criminal conviction or any penalties.

Finally, your criminal DUI defense lawyer can answer all of your legal questions while your case is pending in the court system and help you obtain the best possible result in your case.

How do DUI Traffic Accidents Happen?

DUI accidents typically happen when a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs loses control of their vehicle or fails to see another vehicle or pedestrian due to their intoxication level.

Drunk driving accident scenarios typically involve:

  • A drunk driver exceeds the speed limit and negligently causes their vehicle to hit another vehicle or a pedestrian.
  • A driver falls asleep at the wheel, and their vehicle careens out of control.
  • A driver operates their vehicle in an erratic manner, such as by tailgating other vehicles, aggressively weaving around traffic, or failing to use turn signals when making a lane change or turn.
  • A driver negligently causes their vehicle to strike a concrete median strip or center line, bringing about a head-on crash.
Lawyer for DUI Defense in Orange County

In a DUI case involving a traffic accident, the state prosecutor has the only legal burden of proof. The driver who caused the accident or the defendant in the criminal case does not need to prove anything. Also, under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the intoxicated driver does not need to take the witness stand in court or testify against themselves.

A state prosecutor has a very high legal burden in a criminal DUI case. To secure a conviction against the defendant driver, the prosecutor must satisfy each legal element beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest legal standard for a prosecutor to establish. Specifically, the prosecutor must show that the driver operated a motor vehicle while they were under the illegal influence of alcohol or drugs.

If the prosecutor cannot satisfy their legal burden of proof, your entire DUI case can be subject to a complete dismissal. Therefore, if you find yourself facing criminal DUI charges, you should retain skilled legal help right away. A DUI defense attorney will determine if you can raise one or more legal defenses to your pending criminal charge in court. If you are, your lawyer can assert the appropriate legal defense(s) on your behalf at your criminal jury trial and make compelling legal arguments on your behalf. 

What are the Potential Penalties for DUIs that Involve Accidents and Injuries?

If a prosecutor obtains a DUI conviction against you, a sentencing judge will have the duty of imposing various penalties against you according to established statutory minimums and maximums.

In a standard DUI case, the sentencing judge may impose various penalties depending on your level of intoxication, whether you have prior DUI convictions on your record, and whether or not you caused a traffic accident that led to various injuries.

Some of the most common penalties that a judge may impose in a criminal DUI case, including one that involves a motor vehicle crash, include:

  • High monetary fines
  • Jail time
  • Court-ordered drug and alcohol rehabilitation
  • Required attendance at drunk driving school
  • Probation

A sentencing judge may require you to install an ignition interlock device, or IID, on your vehicle for a required time. In addition to paying regular installation and maintenance costs for this device, you must blow into the device to start your vehicle. If the device determines that you have any amount of alcohol on your breath, it will not allow your vehicle to start.

In addition to the legal penalties that a sentencing judge may impose following a DUI conviction, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may also assess various penalties, including a prolonged driver’s license suspension. However, in some situations, you can fight this license suspension at a DMV hearing.

Generally speaking, the potential fines and jail time may increase if you caused an accident that injured someone else. In fact, drunk drivers who cause accidents may face higher criminal charges, including misdemeanor DUI causing an injury, felony DUI causing an injury, or vehicular manslaughter.

In all of these cases, the DUI penalties you incur upon conviction will depend upon the number of injured individuals in the accident and the severity of those injuries.

Potential penalties can include:

  • A maximum of three years in jail.
  • A maximum DUI probation of five years.
  • A maximum monetary fine of $5,000.
  • A one-year suspension of your driver’s license by the DMV.

If the accident victim suffered severe or permanent bodily injuries, the sentencing judge can add additional jail time—even for a first-time offense.

An injured accident victim can also file a civil claim or lawsuit against you and your insurance company seeking monetary damages for their injuries. If you are responsible for a drunk driving accident, your insurance company may have to pay out these civil damages, depending upon the nature and extent of the accident victim’s injuries.

If you find yourself facing DUI charges, a criminal defense attorney will do everything possible to help you avoid a conviction in your case. If the prosecutor cannot obtain a conviction against you, you will not incur any criminal penalties. Your attorney can accomplish this goal by successfully raising one or more legal defenses on your behalf.

Potential Collateral Consequences of a Criminal DUI Charge

In addition to the legal penalties that a driver might face for a DUI conviction that involves an accident, an offending driver may also experience numerous collateral consequences well into the future. For example, if they currently attend a college or university, the school may suspend their scholarship money or financial aid if they discover a DUI conviction on their record.

In addition, an educational program, such as a college or university, may deny an admissions decision based on a DUI conviction or other conviction on the driver’s record. Admissions counselors frequently perform criminal background checks on all applicants. If they come across a DUI conviction, that discovery may lead to an admissions denial.

Finally, an employer may terminate an individual’s employment if they uncover a DUI conviction on their record. This result is especially common if the individual’s job duties include operating a motor vehicle. Similarly, an employer who uncovers a DUI conviction on a job applicant’s record may deny their employment application.

By having the right DUI defense attorney on your side, you reduce your chances of receiving unfair penalties upon conviction. Your lawyer can make convincing arguments on your behalf and also help you lessen or eliminate the collateral consequences you experience as a result of your criminal DUI conviction.

In response to a criminal DUI charge that involves a traffic accident, a driver may be eligible to raise one or more legal defenses to their pending charge.

First, a driver can allege that they were not legally intoxicated at the time they operated the vehicle. A lengthy delay between the time that the DUI arrest occurred and the time that the officer obtained Breathalyzer evidence may skew the result.

Alternatively, the driver can argue that a defective Breathalyzer machine did not provide an accurate reading.

If the police officer subjected the driver to various field sobriety tests, like the horizontal gaze nystagmus test or heel-to-toe walking test, the driver might allege that the weather or lighting conditions were inappropriate, thereby affecting the test results.

Moreover, the driver may contend that they suffered from a medical condition that affected their balance, preventing them from performing a field sobriety test accurately. Finally, a driver can allege that a police officer violated one or more of their constitutional rights.

A skilled lawyer for criminal defense can defend you against your pending criminal charge and help you obtain the best possible result in your legal matter. 

What is a Plea Deal in a DUI Case?

In some criminal DUI cases, the state prosecutor handling the case might offer the driver a plea deal. In a plea deal agreement, the prosecutor typically offers the defendant a charge reduction or a term of probation in exchange for the driver pleading guilty and giving up certain legal rights. For example, in exchange for a guilty plea, the prosecutor might reduce the pending charge from DUI down to reckless driving or reduce a felony DUI charge down to a misdemeanor charge.

In some cases, it is beneficial for a criminal defendant to accept a plea deal in a DUI case. However, at other times, a driver may be better off taking their case to trial. A trial may be the better option if the driver has a strong legal defense to their pending charge.

You should also keep in mind that in a plea deal arrangement, the driver will give up certain legal and constitutional rights, including their right to a trial by jury and their right of appeal in their criminal case. They must also state in court, and on the record, that no one coerced them into accepting the plea deal and that they are making the deal freely, knowingly, and voluntarily.

A criminal defense attorney in your area can help you decide whether it is to your benefit to accept a plea deal from the state prosecutor or take your case to trial.

Talk to a DUI Defense Attorney Right Away

If you are currently facing a criminal DUI charge, especially one that involves a traffic accident and personal injuries, you should retain the skilled legal help that you need right away.

A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can help you understand your legal options and make informed decisions throughout your DUI case. Contact a criminal defense law firm in Orange County today for a free consultation.
A DUI arrest and charge does not have to ruin your future, and a conviction is not always inevitable. Give yourself the best chance of avoiding a conviction and serious penalties by seeking the defense help you need.

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