Causing Damage With a DUI
Getting a DUI will result in the loss of your license, a large fine, jail time, DUI school, and potentially community service and an ignition interlock device. This is a lot to deal with for what is often just a simple mistake. As if the penalties for a DUI aren't harsh enough, you could face an even harsher sentence if you make other mistakes while driving under the influence.
DUI sentencing can increase in light of certain aggravating factors. These factors include such offenses as injuring or killing someone, having a child under 14 in the car with you, or having a very high BAC. You can even face increased penalties for an aggravated DUI if you damage property while driving under the influence. For example, if you ran into someone's fence or mailbox while driving under the influence, you could face an enhanced sentence. The property damage does not need to be significant for you to suffer from the consequences.
If you cause property damage while driving under the influence, you can face:
- A longer jail sentence
- A larger fine
- Longer DUI classes
- Drug and alcohol treatment classes
- Participation in a victim impact panel program, such as MADD, or the Hospital and Morgue program (HAM)
- Having to compensate the property owner for the full extent of the damage
Those who cause accidents while driving under the influence likely won't be offered a plea bargain for a reduced charge. In addition to the penalties above, these defendants are also typically ordered to do CalTRANS work as a part of their sentences. CalTRANS workers serve their community by cleaning up California's highways and freeways.
And it can get worse. If you damage someone else' property while driving under the influence but leave the scene without providing your information, you can also be charged with a hit and run. A hit and run is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a fine and jail time. If your property damage was an accident and someone was injured, your DUI will be charged as a felony and you could have to pay victim restitution.
If you do damage someone else's property while driving under the influence, make sure you follow the law and provide your information so the property owner can seek damages. And whatever you do, do not admit fault at the scene. You may also want to speak with an attorney about what you can do in your criminal case to limit your civil liability. If you damage someone else's property in any scenario, you are civilly liable to compensate that person for his or her losses. So, if you are charged with a DUI with property damage, you may also be sued by the property owner for the costs to repair the damage if the judge has not already ordered you to do so. A criminal attorney may not be able to help you defend yourself in a civil suit, but he or she can advise you on what to say and what not to say during your criminal case to limit the civil liability you may face.
Speak with an experienced California DUI defense attorney if you are facing DUI charges with an aggravating factor. Property damage may not seem like something you should have criminal liability for, but you will face a harsher sentence. Talking with an attorney about your case can give you an idea of what consequences you may face given your specific circumstances. For example, if a crash report was filed because of the property damage, an attorney can gain access to a copy of the report before you do. The information in the report can help you make the best decision regarding how you will plead in your case. And, if the information can be challenged, you may be able to reduce your DUI with property damage charge to just a DUI. This can make a big difference in your sentence.
Are you facing DUI charges? Contact attorney Christopher Martens and his team for legal help in Tulare, Fresno or Kings County. Experienced in DUI defense, Mr. Martens can help you strategize a defense for your case. With over ten years experience in criminal defense, Attorney Martens has taken over 50 cases to trial and will not be afraid to do the same for you. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.