DUI Commercial Driver Causing Injury – Vehicle Code 23153(d) VC
At the end of a long day of hauling goods on a big rig, you knock back a couple of beers before starting the drive home. On the way, you look down at your radio without realizing you’ve started drifting into another lane. By the time you look up, it’s too late; you’ve slammed into another car and injure a person in the vehicle.
When the police arrive, they smell alcohol and perform an alcohol screening test on you, revealing that you had a .05% breath-alcohol content level (BAC). You are relieved to find out that it is not .08%, the legal BAC limit. However, you’re still placed under arrest because it is illegal to operate a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .04% or higher. In addition, someone was injured as a result of your driving under the influence, so you will be facing severe consequences.
Under California Vehicle Code Section 23153(d), it is unlawful for a person, while having 0.04% or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in Section 15210, and concurrently to do any act forbidden by law or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.
Prosecution of DUI Commercial Driver Causing Injury (VC 23153(d))
In order for you to be found guilty of commercial DUI causing injury, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- Drove a commercial vehicle as defined in Vehicle Code Section 15210
- Drove while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage with a BAC of .04% or more
- Committed an illegal act or failed to perform a lawful duty, and
- That illegal act or failure to perform a lawful duty was the cause of a bodily injury to a victim other than the driver of the vehicle
Sentencing and Punishment for DUI Commercial Driver Causing Injury
The crime of commercial driver DUI causing injury is considered a “wobbler”, meaning it can either be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the severity of the injury and other facts of your case. How you will be charged will also depend on whether or not you have any prior DUI convictions within the last 10 years.
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor for commercial driver DUI causing injury, you face up to 364 days in county jail. If you are convicted of felony commercial driver DUI causing injury, you face 16 months, 2 or 3 years in jail.
If you are convicted for a third or subsequent offense for this crime, it will automatically be considered a felony. Your punishment could be up to four years in jail.
As a commercial driver, the consequences for DUI causing injury are much more severe. In addition to the penalties above, you will face a suspension of your commercial driver’s license. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your license could possibly be suspended for the rest of your life.
Possible Defenses to DUI Commercial Driver Causing Injury
A skilled criminal defense attorney will know the legal defenses to VC 23153 charges. Some defenses our skilled attorneys have successfully used include:
You were not driving the vehicle – If it can be proven that another person drove the vehicle, then this should be a complete defense against the charges.
You did not have a blood alcohol level of .04% or more at the time of the accident – This can be established based on, the amount of alcohol consumed, the time of the accident and how much time had passed between the last drink and the chemical test.
You did not perform an illegal act or failed to perform a lawful duty – If you were carefully driving during the entire incident, you should not be convicted of this offense.
Even if you did perform an illegal act or failed to perform a lawful duty, it was not the cause of the bodily injury – If it can be proven that there was another cause for the bodily injury, and that it was no fault of yours, then you should not be convicted of this offense.
There was no bodily injury – While there is no bright line rule as to what defines “bodily injury,” the courts consider it that “common sense requires more for conviction than a ‘shaking up’, fright or minor headache.”
The car was not a commercial vehicle – There are multiple areas in the vehicle code that define what a commercial vehicle is in California. Generally, a commercial vehicle is any vehicle that:
- Requires a class A, class B or class C license;
- Includes a double trailer;
- Is a tank, bus, farm vehicle or public paratransit vehicle designed to carry more than 10 persons including the driver;
- Is carrying hazardous materials; or
- Is used or maintained for the transportation of persons for hire, compensation or profit or designed, used or maintained primarily for the transportation of property
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding DUI Commercial Driver Causing Injury
What if I did drive the car, but I wasn’t driving it when the accident occurred?
You can still be prosecuted for this offense. If your commercial vehicle had stalled and you didn’t make reasonable efforts to get the vehicle onto the side of the road and someone crashed into it, you could be considered at fault for causing the accident. This means you could still be convicted of this crime.
What if the other party also acted negligently and contributed to causing the accident?
While that may be true, it is not a defense to this charge. It will still be considered that you were a part of the fault that caused the accident. To convict you of commercial driver DUI causing injury, you do not have to be completely at fault.
What happens if there are multiple injured people? Can I be charged more than once?
No, the act of driving under the influence causing injury is considered one act only, even if there are multiple victims involved.
Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one is a commercial driver charged with DUI causing injury, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing charges of DUI commercial driver causing injury for over 30 years. We’ve helped thousands of clients in their time of legal need, and we can help you now.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.