The line between damaging somebody's property and actually injuring another person in a DUI case is a big one because there's a huge difference in punishment if someone is injured.
Felony DUI Charges for Injured Victims
If it's a real serious injury, they'll charge a great bodily injury allegation which is a 3-year enhancement on top of any conviction that you get for the underlying DUI.
It is also classified as a strike and violent felony and you'll serve 85% of the time. See CALCRIM 2100 – Driving Under the Influence Causing Injury.
If on the other hand, nobody gets injured and there's just property damage in a DUI case, it's most likely going to be filed as a misdemeanor and you won't be looking at prison time.
Arguably, you might not even be looking at any jail time depending on how good your DUI attorney is. So, this distinction between property damage and injury is a big one.
Misdemeanor DUI Charges for Property Damage
A lot of times people get in a little fender bender and the other party tries to claim that their neck or back hurts or some other body part hurts and they're really just trying to get money for a personal injury.
Sometimes the prosecutors can't tell the difference when people are trying to dummy-up an injury versus if someone is actually really hurt.
A lot of times these people get lawyers involve who interact with the prosecutors and make things much more difficult to resolve.
So, if you have a case where you've gotten in a accident and are arrested for a DUI, you'd better get to a defense attorney quickly so that defense attorney can start making moves on your behalf that protect your interests and who can also properly advise you on how you're going to deal with the insurance company and the other party.
Obviously, the defense attorney will deal with the prosecutor and judge on your behalf relating to an accident, injury or property damage case.
Paying for Damages to Other Vehicles
If you get involved in a DUI and you damage a bunch of vehicles in that DUI, you're going to be responsible for paying the owner back for those vehicles.
This is a big responsibility because if you don't have insurance this can cost thousands of dollars.
It puts you in a really bad position because the prosecutors give the best resolutions in property damage DUI cases to those individuals who have insurance.
Also for those who can pay back the driver or drivers of the other cars and for those individuals who are able to come out of pocket, if necessary, to make sure that the victim is made whole
So, even if you have a property damage DUI and nobody got hurt, it can still be a problem if you're not taking care of business and making sure that the other party is compensated for any damage that they have.
Not just to the vehicles, but sometimes people hit other property.
I had one client hit one of the signs in Dodger Stadium and damaged that severely.
That cost a lot of money to repair because it was an old sign. This is just one small example if you hit things in your vehicle and you're driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or both.
The prosecutors are going to be looking to get money back from you and if you can't pay that money, they're going to be looking to take it out of your hide, meaning they're going to be looking at punishing you with jail time if you can't pay back the alleged victim in a case.
Even if you do get jail time, you're still going to be ordered to pay the person back.
Victim Restitution in California DUI Cases
So, restitution, when it comes to property damage, and even injuries in a case, can be important. If you commit a DUI and you hurt somebody, that person can seek restitution in the form of medical bills or lost earnings from their employment.
Also, anything else that's out of pocket because of what you did, and the prosecutors vehemently seek these type of damages in criminal case.
They try to get the restitution for the victim and make sure the victim is paid back. This is a very important issue to deal with in a criminal DUI case.
That's why it's so important to hire an attorney. Let the attorney deal with the insurance company. Let the attorney deal with the prosecutor and even any personal injury lawyer if someone's claiming they're hurt.
I've had to deal with other lawyers on the civil side who are trying to come at my client and making things difficult for us in the criminal court.
There's a lot of different balls that have to be juggled. There's many different hats that need to be put on by your DUI defense attorney, so make sure it's someone who's experienced and seasoned.
I've been doing this for 25 years. I know how to handle these type of cases. If you're looking to get your situation taken care of, take the first step.
Make a phone call and let's get moving in the right direction.