DUI Causing Injury

Under California law, if you cause injury to any person other than yourself, you may be charged with vehicle code 23153 DUI causing injury1.

Below our DUI lawyers explain the law including defenses and potential penalties for VC 23153.

Overview of Vehicle Code 23153(a) 23153(b)

You can be charged with §23153(a) even if your blood alcohol content is below the permitted limit of 0.08%.  “Driving under the influence” means that your physical or mental abilities are impaired to such a degree that you no longer have the ability to drive a vehicle with the caution characteristic of a sober person of ordinary prudence under the same or similar circumstances2.

broken windshield from dui

Basically, if you have a measurable level of alcohol or drugs in your system, you may get charged with this section if the prosecution believes they have a strong case against you.  Contrarily, if you have a BAC of 0.08% or higher, you will get charged with California Vehicle Code Section 23153(b) VC3; it is automatically a DUI because of the level of alcohol content and you caused injury while driving.

How Does The Prosecutor Prove A DUI Causing Injury Case?

When charged under Vehicle Code Section 23153, there are three elements that the prosecution has to prove in order to convict you:

prosecutor arguing in a dui trial
  • Either that you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or that your BAC is above 0.08%4,
  • While driving under the influence you broke another law in addition to DUI5
    or acted negligently, and
  • That your unlawful act or negligence6 caused injury7

Penalties for a DUI Causing Injury

The penalties for a conviction or a plea bargain will depend on a variety of factors which may include your criminal history with a special focus on past DUI convictions, injuries sustained as a result of the DUI and conduct such as a hit and run.

intoxicated driver opening car door

A First Conviction for DUI With Injury:

  • A period of imprisonment in a county jail,
  • A fine between $390 and $1,000,
  • Informal probation of between three and five years,
  • court imposed alcohol education program, and
  • A suspension of your driving privileges.

As with a charge of vehicle code 23152(a), the offenses are “priorable” and the penalty increases for a second dui and third dui  or wet reckless convictions which are priorable offenses and so on each time you are convicted of DUI.8

DUI Causing Injury FAQs

1. What are some defenses against being charged with Vehicle Code 23153?

Defenses against DUI causing injury are very similar to a DUI charge.  Since the prosecution has to prove that you were driving under the influence or that your BAC is above 0.08%, a good defense attorney will argue that you were not under the influence and make sure that if your BAC is above 0.08%, that all tests were accurate.  Your attorney should also try to argue that you did not break any other laws and were not acting negligently.  You can also create a defense that your negligence or unlawful act was not the proximate cause of the other person’s injury.

2. Can a DUI causing injury ever be a felony?

Yes.  If this is your third conviction of §23153 DUI causing injury, it is automatically considered a felony and the penalties you face will be much greater and long-lasting.9

3. If it is my third DUI, but only my first DUI causing injury conviction, is that still considered a felony?

Not necessarily.  If your two prior DUI convictions did not include an injury to one or more other persons, it is not automatically a felony.  However, it is important to remember that whether it is a felony may also depend on what your prior convictions are and how severe your current case is.

Related Issues

Vehicle Code 23152(b) Driving Under the Influence – This section of the California Vehicle Code states that it is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle and that it is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.  This is different from section 23153 because it is not required that you cause injury to any person or property to get charged under this section.

DUI First Offense – For a DUI first offense under section 23152, the charges are very similar to section 23153.  You are may be charged with either section or both sections and your exact penalties depend on the specific circumstances of your case and any priorables that you might have, including a wet reckless or dry reckless conviction.

DUI School – DUI school may be required from the very first conviction of a DUI under either Vehicle Code 23152 or 23153.  The driving under the influence program must be a licensed program and they all range in price and content.  Your court imposed program may be anywhere between 6 hours and 30 months depending on the specific circumstances of your case and any past convictions you might have.

Related Offenses

Hiring An Attorney

If you have been arrested and would like to learn more about what attorneys charge.

If you want to understand why its important to have an attorney represent you.

If you are ready to discuss a pending case than contact the Aizman Law Firm at 818-351-9555 for a free confidential consultation.


  1. California Vehicle Code 23153(a) VC – It is unlawful for a person, while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle and concurrently do any act 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 []
  2. CALJIC — Driving Under the Influence — 12.65 []
  3. California Vehicle Code 23153(b) VC – It is unlawful for a person, while having 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle and concurrently 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. []
  4. A person is under the influence if, as a result of (drinking [or consuming] an alcoholic beverage/ [and/or] taking a drug), his or her mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is no longer able to (drive a vehicle/operate a vessel) with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances. People v. Schoonover (1970) 5 Cal.App.3d 101, 105–107 [85 Cal.Rptr. 69]; People v. Enriquez (1996) 42 Cal.App.4th 661, 665–666 [49 Cal.Rptr.2d 710] []
  5. [T]he evidence must show an unlawful act or neglect of duty in addition to driving under the influence.” (People v. Minor (1994) 28 Cal.App.4th 431, 438 [33 Cal.Rptr.2d 641] [italics in original]; People v. Oyaas (1985) 173 Cal.App.3d 663, 668 [219 Cal.Rptr. 243]. []
  6. Negligence—Ordinary Care Pen. Code, § 7, subd. 2; Restatement Second of Torts, § 282; People v. Oyaas (1985) 173 Cal.App.3d 663, 669 [219 Cal.Rptr. 243] [ordinary negligence standard applies to driving under the influence causing injury]. []
  7. “An act causes bodily injury to another person if the injury is the direct, natural, and probable consequence of the act and the injury would not have happened without the act. A natural and probable consequence is one that a reasonable person would know is likely to happen if nothing unusual intervenes. In deciding whether a consequence is natural and probable, consider all the circumstances established by the evidence.”[CALCRIM 2100] []
  8. California Vehicle Code Sections 23554, 23556, 23558 []
  9. California Vehicle Code 23566 VC – If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23153 and the offense occurred within 10 years of two or more separate violations of Section 23103, as specified in Section 23103.5, or Section 23152 or 23153, or any combination of these violations, that resulted in convictions, that person shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of two, three, or four years and by a fine of not less than one thousand fifteen dollars ($1,015) nor more than five thousand dollars ($5,000). The person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle shall be revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles pursuant to paragraph (6) of subdivision (a) of Section 13352. The court shall require the person to surrender the driver’s license to the court in accordance with Section 13550. []


I got a dui 23152 accident misdemeanor in California can it be a felony charge from the da if I was charged with misdemeanor? It’s my 6 in 20 years and 2 in 10 years?

Hello Jason: In CA, a DUI may be charged as a felony if it is your fourth within a 10 year period or if you were involved in a traffic collision resulting in significant injury.

Hi thank you for getting back with me. The injury’s where brusis the insurance adjuster said. Is that a felony? Thank you for your time!

Hi Diana sorry to bug you but you seem really nolegible. I called the da office and they said I was being charged with misdemeanor dui can they change that or will I go to court for that? Thank you so much for your time.

Diana how much would it cost to retain you?

Hello Jason: I would be happy to discuss your case with you and go over your options. Please call the office to set up a mutually convenient time.

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