It's one thing to have a blood-alcohol level of over .08 or have some drugs or alcohol in your system and driving on the roads in Los Angeles and get pulled over for some traffic violation and being issued a citation to appear in court for a DUI – it's yet another thing to be involved in some accident-related DUI.
The prosecutors and judges in Los Angeles County are adamant about accidents and DUI's. They figure it's their job to protect people on the roads. The more dangerously a defendant is indicated to have been driving, the more harsh the punishment will be by the prosecutors and judge, and the more restrictions they will put on that person.
Having done DUI cases, and specifically accident-related offense DUI's in Los Angeles over the past twenty-five years, I've handled many of these cases and seen where these cases turn as far as the person getting jail or prison time, and where, even though you got in an accident can still be treated as a misdemeanor. You can keep yourself out of jail.
Negotiation with Prosecutor to Avoid Jail
Those crucial gray areas separate the good attorneys from the bad ones. Great DUI attorneys know how to angle cases so their clients avoid jail time and avoid some of the harshest penalties related to DUI accident-related matters.
One big thing that the prosecutors will be looking at in an accident-related DUI is how badly the other parties involved in the accident were hurt. If it's just soft tissue injuries, that's one thing.
If, on the other hand, the other person has what can be characterized as a severe injury – in other words, an injury where they have a broken bone, some dislocation, some scar – some bad injury related to the accident, those are the cases the prosecutors are looking to target and make an example of the offenders on.
If, on the other hand, you get in an accident and no one is hurt, a lot of times, we can convince the prosecutors and the judge to not throw the book at you, not put you in jail for an extended period, and treat the case as an ordinary run-of-the-mill DUI matter.
Other factors that go into whether or not someone will be facing jail or prison-related to an accident DUI has to do with the person's criminal record, how dangerous they were driving, why the accident occurred.
In other words, if the accident wasn't your fault, then that's certainly a good argument that you didn't cause the injuries related to the other person. Of course, we have to get around the presumption in the law that says, if you're driving under the influence of alcohol and you get involved in an accident – it's presumed that it's your fault.
To get around that presumption and avoid being held responsible for any injuries related to a DUI in LA, we're going to have to show that you didn't cause the accident and the other party caused their damage. Therefore, you should not be held responsible for that.
Defenses for Felony DUI's in Accident Cases
I do a lot of felony DUI's involving accidents, and one of the most effective defenses that we utilize in these cases is to be able to argue that the prosecutor, the judge, and even a jury – that whatever injury was caused in this accident was not caused by the fault of the defendant.
In other words, if you get involved in an accident and neither the person that's hurt or some third party or third event causes the accident and causes the injury, then that's not going to be a scenario where the prosecutors are going to be able to get you for a felony DUI, because they've got to show that you caused whatever injury it is that resulted from the accident and that that injury is serious about contacting you for a felony DUI. So obviously, one of the most effective defenses is causation and showing that you're not responsible for the DUI.
A lot of times, other factors cause accidents. Either the person driving their vehicle could rear-end somebody, or another party could be driving recklessly on the road.
A hit-and-run driver can cause an accident, so it's essential that you have an attorney that's been down this road before, has had success, knows how to fight these felony DUI accident-related offenses, and can get you the best result based on the circumstances that you're faced with.
Another issue that has to be evaluated regarding accidents related to DUI's and even felonies being charged against a person is this issue of causation. In other words, in some cases, it can be argued that there are multiple causes of somebody's injury. How that is dealt with by the courts and a reasonable attorney who has done these DUI-related accidents is they're going to evaluate a potential cause of an accident a substantial factor in that accident.
Anything that is a substantial factor in the accident will be held responsible for the accident. So, if the victim of a case gets hurt and the defendant is liable for it, the defendant can be determined to be a substantial factor in the accident. They're going to be considered the cause even though the victim played a part in their injuries.
As you can see, this type of stuff can become complicated, and you must get an attorney that's been down this road before and knows how to deal with these accident-related DUI offenses.