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What Will Cause Prosecutors to Seek Jail Time in a DUI Case?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Oct 06, 2021

There are several factors that if they're present in a DUI prosecution, the prosecutors will be seeking jail time in Los Angeles County. 

That includes the 38 courts now operating in Downtown LA, the west side, and the San Fernando Valley. It is pretty uniform that speeding is probably one of the most significant factors that prosecutors look at.

What Will Cause Prosecutors to Seek Jail Time in a California DUI Case?

Suppose someone goes over 100 miles an hour and is under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or something else. In that case, you can bet the prosecutors will want to punish that person.  That's the type of person from their perspective that will kill somebody.

So, that's why, if you've got a case where you're going extremely fast, you want to have a criminal defense attorney by your side -- someone who does a lot of DUIs in the court where your case is pending and knows how to mitigate factors that can cause you to go to jail.

Another significant factor that can cause a person to go to jail in a DUI case is a high blood alcohol level. Why? Because that makes the person much more dangerous on the road. 

The higher your blood alcohol level, the more likely you will get into an accident, run somebody over, and do severe damage.

Our Los Angeles DUI attorneys review various driving under the influence laws below.

Felony DUI Causing Injuries - VC 23153

Prosecutors will pursue felony DUI charges if the offense causes injuries to a victim. California Vehicle Code 23153 VC defines DUI causing damage as: 

  • “while someone is under the influence and driving a vehicle doing an illegal act, or neglect a duty imposed by law, which causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.”

If this occurs, the vehicle driver can be arrested and charged with:

  • Vehicle Code 23153(a), driving under the influence causing injury,
  • Vehicle Code 23153(b), driving with a BAC of .08% or higher, causing injury.

Intoxication means blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher unless it's a commercial vehicle driver, which only requires a blood alcohol content of 0.04% or more.

Vehicle Code 23153 VC DUI causing injury is a “wobbler” that can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony crime, generally based on the seriousness of the victim's injuries and the severity of the accident, and the defendant's criminal record.

DUI Causing Death

If someone was driving under the influence and caused the death of another person, they could be charged with manslaughter under California Penal Code 191.5 PC.

Subsection (a) defines gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and Penal Code 191.5(b) defines ordinary vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Gross vehicular manslaughter adds a critical element of gross negligence to the ordinary vehicular manslaughter crime.

In either case, a felony DUI causing someone means the prosecution has certain factors they have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, to obtain a conviction, such as:

  • “while the defendant was intoxicated, they killed a human being without malice aforethought while driving a vehicle, or killing was the result of the committing an unlawful act or a lawful act that could produce death, unlawfully.”

In the most severe cases, prosecutors could decide to pursue a felony DUI causing death under California Penal Code 187 PC, a murder charge.

When this occurs, it's called a second-degree Watson murder after the California Supreme Court case under the same name.

In this case, the court ruled that drunk driving with a prior conviction can be considered “malice aforethought,” which is a required element to support a Penal Code 187 PC second-degree murder charge.  

Put simply, if you have at least one prior DUI conviction and then cause the death of another person while driving under the influence again, you could be facing murder charges that carry severe penalties and jail time if convicted.

Danger on the Road to Public Safety

As you can see, the theme of people going to jail is dangerousness. If you are a danger out on the road and you either hurt somebody or could have hurt somebody, the prosecutors will be looking to punish you.

The flip side, of course, is just somebody who's just driving along and doesn't have their lights on or commits some minor traffic offense, and their blood alcohol level is not that high; they're not speeding.

Then, the prosecutors will treat that person much differently than somebody doing one of those dangerous things like going fast or having a high blood alcohol level.

Prior DUI Convictions and Accidents

Another significant factor that they look at in putting people in jail is whether you have prior DUIs and whether or not you get in an accident. 

People who continue to violate the law by driving under the influence will go to jail. 

The more cases you have, the longer your jail sentence will be, and the more likely the prosecutor won't bend on punishing you seriously.

Los Angeles DUI Lawyer

So, the question becomes, if you have a DUI in Los Angeles County, what do you do?  Who do you go to, and what is your best strategy? 

The answer to that is that you've already landed in the right place. 

I've been doing this now for almost 30 years.  I've worked for the prosecutor's office, so I know how they handle DUIs.

I've worked for a Superior Court Judge, so I know how they view DUIs and what can impact them when sentencing.

Finally, I've been the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm since 1994, handling DUIs in every courthouse and dealing with hundreds of prosecutors over the years. 

I know how they operate.  It's like a big corporation.  I know what to do.  I know who to go to, and I know how to get you the best result.

Pick up the phone. Take the first step towards avoiding jail. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you. The criminal defense lawyers at Hedding Law Firm are located in Los Angeles County, and we offer a free case evaluation.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.

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