Napa DUI With Injury Lawyer

When you have a few too many drinks, use cannabis products, or take a high dose of medication and choose to drive while you are under the influence, it could have severe consequences. You could cause an accident, put the people around you in danger, and seriously harm someone. These situations could all lead to a DUI conviction that could have major consequences for your personal, financial, and professional well-being.

If you are facing DUI charges, it is important to work with an experienced DUI defense attorney. Their deep understanding of DUI laws in California allows them to analyze the details of your case, determine what course of action you will be able to take, and craft a solid defense to aim for the most successful outcome. If you need a skilled, accomplished DUI defense attorney, trust the team at the Law Office of Conor Bell.

Napa DUI with Injury Lawyer

What Is a DUI?

Understanding how a DUI is defined in California can help you avoid a DUI charge or know how to respond legally if you are charged. The state considers a person to be under the influence when they have consumed a substance, such as alcohol, cannabis, or prescription drugs, to the point that it impairs their ability to drive safely. This applies to any substance that can negatively impact your cognitive function, whether it is illegal or not.

You may face a DUI charge whether you have been drinking in excess or you are taking painkillers that were prescribed by a doctor. The law in California does not acknowledge a difference because they both make it difficult for you to drive safely. The state has put laws in place to minimize DUI cases and penalize individuals who are caught driving under the influence.

DUI Laws in California

California has very stringent DUI laws in place to protect its citizens, as outlined in Vehicle Code section 23152. This statute makes it clear that anyone who is impaired by drugs, alcohol, or any combination of the two who chooses to drive a car is breaking the law. When a person is pulled over while driving after having a few drinks, they may face DUI charges if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over the legal limit of 0.08%.

In addition to these stipulations, California also makes it clear that a person can be charged with a DUI if their intention was to drive while impaired. This means that, even if your car does not move, you could face DUI charges if your key is in the ignition because it shows that your intention was to operate your vehicle while intoxicated. There are still stricter DUI laws for some groups.

California has what is referred to as zero-tolerance laws in place that apply specifically to those not of legal drinking age. If a driver under the age of 21 is found to have a BAC of 0.01%, meaning they have consumed any amount of alcohol, they could face an underage DUI charge. This law extends even further to anyone between the ages of 13 and 20, specifying that they could lose their license for a year or, if they are under 16, not be eligible for a license for an additional year if they are caught operating a bicycle while under the influence.

The stricter DUI regulations also extend to those who drive commercially, like bus drivers and delivery drivers. These jobs often require large vehicles, they are closely involved with the public every day, and some carry hazardous materials that could cause serious harm during an accident. If a commercial driver is found to have a BAC of 0.04%, they may face DUI charges. All DUI charges are serious, whether you are a commercial driver, were caught drinking and driving while underage, or injured another person while driving under the influence, but they may carry different penalties.

Penalties for a DUI in California

As with most criminal offenses in Napa, CA, you can face many different penalties depending on the severity of your case. Individuals who are charged with a DUI for the first time will often only have a misdemeanor charge, while the charges could become felonies if you have multiple DUIs or cause a serious accident with injuries. The penalties that come along with a DUI conviction include fines, jail time, and the potential loss of your license.

Some of the common DUI penalties in California include: 

  • First Offense. You could spend up to six months in jail, pay fines ranging from nearly $400 to $1,000, and have your license suspended for up to six months. Jail time can be avoided following your first DUI offense if a judge decides to order probation instead. The first DUI conviction may also carry a penalty of probation, where you have to complete a DUI course with 30 hours of classes in three months.
  • Second Offense. If you are convicted of another DUI, then your fines will stay between $400 and $1,000, you could face up to a year in jail, and your license may be suspended for up to two years. In some circumstances, you may be able to serve jail time as a house arrest or in an alternative work setting after your second conviction. You will also have to complete another probation, this one lasting either 18 or 30 months, depending on the judge’s decision.
  • Third Offense. A third DUI conviction can result in having your license suspended for three years, up to $1,800 in fines, and anywhere from 120 days to a full year in jail. After your third DUI conviction, your probation period will last from 3-5 years, and the judge may order a 30-month DUI school.

The penalties that come along with DUI convictions can have serious effects on nearly every area of your life, from personal relationships to your professional standing. Getting your license suspended could cause you to lose your job if you do not have other reliable transportation, but there is a system in place to remedy that.

If your license has been suspended due to a DUI conviction you may still be able to drive, under very specific circumstances, with a restricted license. This will allow you to drive to specific places, such as from home to work and back, but only if you install an Ignition Interlock Device. These devices are connected to the starter of your car and will not allow the vehicle to start if alcohol is detected with a breathalyzer test. While the previously mentioned penalties are severe, they can be worse if your DUI caused injuries or death.

What Happens If a DUI Causes Injuries?

Any accident caused by intoxicated driving can significantly change your life if you were driving. You could spend time in a county jail, face financial strain because of large fines, or lose your driver’s license for a period of time. While these penalties are serious, they are often much worse in cases where a DUI is charged as a felony because of an injury or other aggravating factor.

DUI cases are considered “wobblers,” which means they have the potential to be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The decision of what charges to make will often come down to the severity of the incident. If you are driving after smoking marijuana and cause an accident that harms your passengers or individuals in another car, for example, you could be charged with a felony. A felony DUI conviction involving injuries carries harsher penalties, including up to four years in state prison and fines of up to $5,000.

The penalties associated with injury DUI cases are harsh, but it is much worse if you cause a death. You may be leaving a party where you had too many drinks, fall asleep while driving, and kill a pedestrian. When this case is charged, it could be a misdemeanor, such as cases of negligent vehicular manslaughter, or a felony if you get a second-degree murder charge. If convicted, you could face anywhere from a year in jail to life in prison, along with fines of up to $1,000.

Regardless of the circumstances, if you have a history of DUI convictions, then you may face stricter penalties in an effort to keep you from re-offending. Facing a DUI charge after you injure or kill someone is daunting, so it is important to work with an experienced Napa DUI defense attorney from the Law Office of Conor Bell.

Trust the Law Office of Conor Bell for Your DUI Defense

A DUI conviction can have a serious impact on your life. You may miss out on job opportunities, risk losing your license permanently, and have to deal with the reality of harming someone else while driving under the influence. When you are facing DUI charges, whether for a misdemeanor first offense or a more serious felony following an accident with injuries, it is important to have an experienced defense attorney.

There are options for how you can approach your DUI case, and a skilled defense attorney will assess your case, determine the most optimal course of action moving forward, and walk you through your case. No matter what the circumstances of your DUI are, the team at the Law Office of Conor Bell is ready to help. Contact us today for assistance.