Latest News 2017 February The DUI Accident Wasn't My Fault-Does It Matter If I Was Drunk?

The DUI Accident Wasn't My Fault-Does It Matter If I Was Drunk?

It's on every after-school special and health class in high school—drunk driving leads to tragic car accidents. However, what happens when you've had a little too much to drink, but you're still not at fault? Are you still considered guilty of causing the car accident? Will the collision contribute to your DUI penalties?

Here's what you need to know.

The Definition of "DUI Causing Injury"

Some states have enhanced penalties for a charge called "DUI causing injury." Essentially, it's a harsher DUI charge to reflect the pain and injury caused by another due to the defendant's actions. In California, for instance, a first offense DUI is 48 hours of jail time and up to $1,000 in fines. When that same charge causes an injury to someone else, the potential sentence is up to 3 years imprisonment and $2,000 in fines, with additional penalties for each additional person injured in the accident.

The prosecutor will need to prove the following 4 elements to charge you with DUI causing injury:

  • You were driving drunk or above a .08 BAC
  • Your drunkenness caused you to drive negligently
  • Another person was injured due to your negligence

If you have prior DUI convictions on your record, those DUI convictions will create additional consequences for a DUI causing injury charge—also known as aggravated DUI—even if no one was hurt in prior cases. Judges and prosecutors have a great deal of leeway in deciding how to charge these cases; if your record paints you as a habitual DUI offender, you're almost certainly facing a felony charge.

How Your DUI Case May Proceed

If you were in an accident that caused someone else injury, you may be immediately charged with aggravated DUI—even if you're certain that you didn't cause the accident. If your BAC was potentially over the .08 limit, your case will potentially be fought on two fronts: proving that you didn't cause the accident (regardless of BAC), and that your BAC was not high enough for a DUI conviction.

If your BAC level cannot be challenged, your defense attorney can at least attempt to reduce your charge from an aggravated to a misdemeanor DUI. Because aggravated DUI can be charged as a felony, this is a victory on its own. In addition, proving that you were not to blame for the accident will strengthen your case if the other car's driver and passengers want to file an injury claim against you in civil court.

It's important to remember that field sobriety tests and handheld breathalyzers are not necessarily accurate or conclusive tests of sobriety—which means challenging your DUI charge at the root will be possible. Your DUI defense attorney will be able to walk you through the best possible defense for your case and the risks and rewards of each strategy.

Categories: DUI Accidents