Being charged with DUI causing bodily injury is a serious crime. Depending on the severity of the accident, DUI with great bodily injury charges can carry a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. Besides hefty fines, the offense may carry additional punishments such as long term license suspensions, restitution, and more than 12 months of DUI classes. Even worse, a DUI that causes the injury of another person is automatically upgraded to a felony DUI.
While all cases are different, we can take the four elements of the crime the prosecution will need to prove and break them down in order to understand what a felony DUI lawyer will need to make the state prove for a guilty verdict.
The 4 Criminal Elements
"The defendant operated the vehicle."
The prosecution will use the arresting officer, or other witness who saw the defendant operating the vehicle in their prosecution.
"The defendant operated the vehicle while intoxicated..."
Assuming the prosecution can prove element 1, the officer will be summoned as a witness and any evidence collected as part of the officer's investigation will be presented to the court. This evidence could include observations made by the officer, receipts from a bar or restaurant showing you purchased alcoholic beverages, BAC from a breathalyzer or blood sample, and any other witness statements that may establish a factual pattern that the defendant was intoxicated.
"While intoxicated and operating the vehicle, the accused also..."
Again, assuming the first 2 elements are found true, the prosecution will attempt to establish the third element. All the prosecution needs to prove is that the defendant committed some other traffic violation. This could be something as simple as running a stop sign, or an illegal lane change. That said, simply because the defendant was intoxicated, does not automatically establish that the defendant committed an illegal act. If another person was injured in the accident, that could have been caused by their own neglect or illegal act - not necessarily the defendant's.
"The defendant's illegal act or failure to perform a legal duty caused bodily injury to another person."
Assuming the previous elements have been proven, the 4th is the easiest for the prosecution to prove. An injury to another person can be shown with medical bills, or the testimony of the person injured in the crash, or the officer who responded to a 911 call and saw the person injured.
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If you've been cited or arrested and charged with DUI with great bodily injury, contact the DUI lawyer at Johnson Criminal Law Group for a free evaluation of your case. We are here to help.