DUI WITH SERIOUS BODILY INJURY
If you are arrested for a DUI with serious bodily injury, you are facing a significant criminal charge. The severity of this charge cannot be understated. While extremely serious, this crime is very technical and nuanced. An experienced DUI lawyer can help navigate all the complexities and legal issues that surround this charge. At Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh, we have three former prosecutors that handle DUI with serious bodily injury, DUI manslaughter, and Vehicular Homicide cases.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DUI CRASH AND A DUI WITH SERIOUS BODILY INJURY?
The obvious difference between the two is the serious bodily injury part. In a DUI crash charge, the prosecution is not required to prove serious bodily injury. However, this is the extent of the difference. DUI with serious bodily injury requires the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle occurred under the influence to the extent that their normal faculties were impaired, or they had an alcohol level of .08 or higher. This element of proof is required in all misdemeanor and felony DUI charges.
CAN YOU BE CHARGED WITH DUI WITH SERIOUS BODILY INJURY IF YOU DID NOT CAUSE THE ACCIDENT?
The law for DUI with serious bodily injury states that as a result of operating the vehicle, the driver caused or contributed to causing serious bodily injury to the victim. If you did not cause or any way contribute to the accident, then you cannot be charged with DUI with serious bodily injury. However, if you are even .00001 percent at fault for contributing to the accident, then you can be charged with DUI with serious bodily injury.
Determining the cause of the accident can be a large point of contention in these types of cases and can drastically change the end result in these types of cases. In some situations, it can be advantageous consult an expert reconstructionist to help determine the cause of the accident. An accident reconstructionist can help determine important factors in the accident. These factors include the speed of the vehicles at the point of impact, whether the brakes were applied, or whether the throttle was applied at the time of the accident.
WHAT IS TYPE OF INJURY IS CONSIDERED A SERIOUS BODILY INJURY?
There is no specific set of injuries that are considered serious bodily injury. Instead, serious is defined as one that creates a substantial risk of death, disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of any bodily function or organ. This definition of serious bodily injury encompasses numerous types of injuries.
The serious bodily injury requirement of DUI with serious bodily injury can be proven in a couple different ways. In some rare instances, the serious bodily injury can be proven by photographs of the injury. On some occasions, the injury can be proven by the victim testifying about the extent of the injury and showing their injury in court. Usually, the injury is proven be using the medical records from the doctors that treated the injury.
HOW LONG CAN YOU LOSE YOUR DRIVER'S LICENSE FOR A DUI WITH SERIOUS BODILY INJURY?
A DUI with serious bodily injury can result in a minimum driver’s license suspension of three (3) years. However, if you have a prior DUI conviction within the past five (5) years, there will be a minimum driver’s license suspension of five (5) years.
CAN YOU BE CHARGED WITH A DUI WITH SERIOUS BODILY INJURY IF THE INJURED PERSON WAS A PASSENGER IN YOUR CAR?
Yes. The crime of DUI with serious bodily requires that the driver caused or contributed to causing serious bodily injury to the victim. However, there is nothing in the statute that states the victim that has serious bodily injury cannot be in the same vehicle as the driver.
IS DUI WITH SERIOUS BODILY INJURY A FELONY OR MISDEMEANOR CHARGE?
DUI with serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony. However, this does not mean the charge cannot change. For instance, if you are involved in a DUI crash and the other person is transported to the hospital, the extent of their injuries may not be known initially. If the injuries are unknown the officer may make an initial arrest for misdemeanor DUI crash charge. If the prosecution later discovers that the person transported to the hospital has serious bodily injuries, they can up-file the misdemeanor DUI crash charge to felony DUI with serious bodily injury. The reverse is also true. If the officer makes an arrest for DUI with serious bodily injury, but the prosecution later discovers there is not serious bodily injury, then the case can be down-filed.
There are other situations that can lead the severity of the charge being lessened. A skilled DUI lawyer may be able to successfully plea bargain a DUI with serious bodily injury to a misdemeanor charge. When there is a DUI with serious bodily injury charge, it is common to have a blood draw to determine the blood alcohol content of the driver. Blood draws are extremely invasive and there may be a motion to suppress to challenge the blood draw.
HOW MUCH JAIL TIME ARE YOU FACING FOR A DUI WITH SERIOUS BODILY INJURY?
DUI with serious bodily injury is a third-degree felony, which means that it is punishable by up to five (5) years in prison. Every felony charge has an offense level that associates points with the charge. In every felony case there is a scoresheet. A scoresheet is a formula legislation came up with that adds up all of these points. This formula takes into account the crimes you are charged with, your prior criminal history, victim injury points, and other enhancement points. The formula comes up with a number that reflects how many months in prison you should serve for a particular charge.
If you have no prior criminal history and no enhancements on your scoresheet, you are facing a minimum of twenty-one (21) months in prison. This is the minimum, meaning you could be sentenced to a greater amount of time than this. The only way that a Judge can sentence you to below a minimum guideline amount is if there what is referred to as a downward departure. A downward departure is only way to receive a sentence below the lowest permissible sentence. This is where an effective DUI lawyer is imperative can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of a final sentence.
DUI with serious bodily injury is a crime that we at Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh are equipped to handle and have experience handling. As former prosecutors, we have handled DUI with serious bodily injury on both the prosecution and the defense side. Our experience on both sides of this type of charge provides us a unique advantage when litigating these cases. Contact us at (561)295-5825 to see how we can help you or your loved one.