There's a number of factors that if they're present in a DUI prosecution, the prosecutors will be seeking jail time in Los Angeles County.
That includes all of the 38 courts that are now operating in Downtown LA, the west side, the San Fernando Valley and it is pretty uniform that level of speeding is probably one of the biggest factors that prosecutors look at.
If someone is going over 100 miles an hour and they're under the influence of drugs, alcohol or something else, you can bet the prosecutors are going to 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 definitely want to have a criminal defense attorney by your side -- someone who does a lot of DUI's in the court where your case is pending and knows how to mitigate factors that can cause you to go to jail.
Another big factor that can cause a person to go to jail on 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 are to get into an accident, run somebody over and do some serious damage.
Our Los Angeles DUI attorneys are reviewing some various driving under the influence laws below.
Felony DUI Causing Injuries - VC 23153
Prosecutors will pursue felony DUI charges if the offense caused injuries to a victim. California Vehicle Code 23153 VC defines DUI causing injury 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, which is normally based on the seriousness of the victim's injuries, severity of the accident, and 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's means the prosecution has certain factors they have to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, to obtain a conviction, such as:
- “while defendant was intoxicated, they killed a human being without malice aforethought while driving a vehicle, or killing was result of the committing an unlawful act, or a lawful act that could produce death, in an unlawful manner.”
In the most serious 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 in people going to jail is dangerousness. If you are a danger out on the road and you either hurt somebody or you could have hurt somebody, the prosecutors are going to 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 are going to treat that person much differently than somebody who's doing one of those dangerous things like going fast or having a high blood alcohol level.
Prior DUI Convictions and Accidents
Another big factor that they look at in putting people in jail is whether you have prior DUI's and whether or not you get in an accident.
People who continue to violate the law in the area of driving under the influence are going to 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.
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, you've already landed on the right place.
I've been doing this now almost 30 years. I've worked for the prosecutor's office, so I know how they handle DUI's.
I've worked for a Superior Court Judge, so I know how they view DUI's and what can impact them when it comes to sentencing.
Finally, I've been the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm since 1994, handling DUI's in every single courthouse, 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.