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DUI Causing Bodily Injury – Understanding VC 23153(a) and (b)

Posted by John Campanella | Aug 27, 2023 | 0 Comments

Driving is a fundamental aspect of modern life, providing convenience and freedom to move from one place to another. However, the privilege of driving comes with great responsibility, as the safety of oneself and others on the road depends on the actions of every driver. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is one of the most concerning violations of this responsibility, and when it leads to bodily injury, the legal consequences become even more serious. In the state of California, Vehicle Code (VC) sections 23153(a) and (b) specifically address the grave issue of DUI causing bodily injury. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the intricacies of these legal provisions, exploring their definitions, implications, real-world examples, potential penalties, and the importance of seeking legal counsel when facing charges under these sections.

Understanding VC 23153(a) – DUI Causing Bodily Injury

VC 23153(a) is a crucial legal provision in California that addresses a particularly dangerous situation on the roads: DUI incidents resulting in bodily injury to another person. Under this section, it is unlawful for any individual who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs to operate a motor vehicle, leading to bodily injury of another person. The term "bodily injury" encompasses a wide range of physical harm, from minor injuries like cuts and bruises to more severe ones like broken bones, internal injuries, and even traumatic brain injuries.

The primary elements of VC 23153(a) are:

  1. Driving Under the Influence: The individual must be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This impairment impairs their ability to operate a vehicle safely and increases the risk of accidents.

  2. Bodily Injury to Another Person: The impaired driving must directly result in bodily injury to another person. This could be an occupant of the impaired driver's vehicle, an occupant of another vehicle, a pedestrian, or even a cyclist.

Example Scenario for VC 23153(a): Consider a situation where a driver, who has consumed alcohol exceeding the legal limit, runs a red light at an intersection and collides with another vehicle. The impact of the collision causes bodily injuries to the occupants of the other vehicle, including fractures and internal injuries. If it is established that the impaired driver's actions directly led to these injuries, they could be charged under VC 23153(a).

Understanding VC 23153(b) – DUI Causing Injury with BAC Over 0.08%

VC 23153(b) addresses another specific scenario related to DUI causing bodily injury. This provision applies when an individual operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, and this impairment leads to bodily injury of another person.

The key elements of VC 23153(b) are:

  1. BAC Above Legal Limit: The individual must have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher, as determined by chemical testing. This threshold is recognized as the legal limit for intoxication in many states, including California.

  2. Bodily Injury to Another Person: Similar to VC 23153(a), the impaired driving must result in bodily injury to another person, whether it's an occupant of the impaired driver's vehicle, another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a cyclist.

Example Scenario for VC 23153(b): Let's imagine a case where a driver, whose BAC is determined to be 0.10% after a single-car accident, loses control of their vehicle and crashes into a telephone pole. A passenger in the car sustains serious injuries due to the impact. The investigation establishes that the driver's elevated BAC contributed to their impaired driving, which directly caused bodily injury to the passenger. In this scenario, the driver could face charges under VC 23153(b).

Real-World Consequences of VC 23153(a) and (b) Violations

VC 23153(a) and (b) are both considered felony offenses in California due to their potentially life-threatening implications. When an individual's actions result in bodily injury to others while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, society and the legal system take these violations very seriously. Conviction under these sections can result in severe penalties, including:

  • Substantial Fines: Individuals convicted under these sections often face substantial fines, which can amount to thousands of dollars.

  • Long Driver's License Suspension: A conviction may lead to a lengthy suspension of the driver's license, impacting one's ability to commute and engage in daily activities.

  • Mandatory DUI Education Programs: The court may require individuals to complete DUI education programs to raise awareness about the dangers of driving under the influence.

  • Probation: Individuals convicted may be placed on probation, requiring them to adhere to specific conditions set by the court.

  • Restitution: Convicts may be obligated to provide restitution to the injured parties to cover medical expenses, property damage, and other losses incurred due to the incident.

  • Possible Imprisonment: In severe cases, individuals convicted under VC 23153(a) and (b) could face imprisonment. The duration of imprisonment varies based on factors such as the severity of injuries and the defendant's prior criminal record.

Seeking Legal Counsel for VC 23153(a) and (b) Charges

Facing charges under VC 23153(a) and (b) is a daunting experience, and individuals in such situations are advised to seek legal counsel immediately. Navigating the complexities of these legal provisions requires an understanding of DUI laws, evidence collection, negotiation, and courtroom procedures. An experienced attorney specializing in DUI cases can provide valuable guidance, build a strong defense strategy, and advocate for the best possible outcome.

Legal professionals like John Campanella specialize in California traffic law and can offer personalized advice tailored to each case's unique circumstances. From evaluating the evidence to exploring potential defenses, these attorneys play a crucial role in protecting individuals' rights and ensuring fair treatment within the legal system.

Promoting Safe and Responsible Driving

DUI incidents that result in bodily injury pose a significant threat to road safety and individual well-being. California's VC 23153(a) and (b) are designed to hold individuals accountable for their actions while under the influence, particularly when their actions lead to physical harm. While the examples and explanations provided in this article offer a comprehensive understanding of these sections, it's important to remember that laws can vary, and each case has unique elements.

Promoting safe and responsible driving remains a collective responsibility. By refraining from driving under the influence, following traffic laws, and prioritizing the safety of oneself and others on the road, individuals can contribute to a safer driving environment. If ever faced with charges under VC 23153(a) and (b), seeking legal assistance is crucial for protecting rights, understanding the legal process, and striving for a just resolution.


What do VC 23153(a) and (b) address?

VC 23153(a) and (b) address incidents where individuals driving under the influence cause bodily injury to another person.

What is considered "bodily injury"?

"Bodily injury" encompasses a range of physical harm, from minor cuts and bruises to severe injuries like fractures and internal damage.

What constitutes "driving under the influence"?

Operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs, leading to diminished driving abilities, constitutes driving under the influence.

What's the difference between VC 23153(a) and (b)?

VC 23153(a) addresses DUI causing bodily injury, while VC 23153(b) focuses on DUI causing injury with a BAC over 0.08%.

What is the legal BAC limit in California?

The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit in California is 0.08%.

What are the primary elements of VC 23153(a)?

The primary elements are driving under the influence and causing bodily injury to another person.

Under VC 23153(b), must the BAC be exactly 0.08% to apply?

No, a BAC of 0.08% or higher is required for VC 23153(b) charges to apply.

What's an example scenario for VC 23153(a)?

A driver, under the influence of alcohol, runs a red light and collides with another car, causing fractures and injuries to the occupants.

Can VC 23153(a) apply to injuries to pedestrians and cyclists?

Yes, VC 23153(a) applies to bodily injuries caused to pedestrians, cyclists, and occupants of other vehicles.

What's an example scenario for VC 23153(b)?

A driver with a BAC of 0.10% loses control and crashes into a tree, resulting in serious injuries to a passenger.

Are VC 23153(a) and (b) considered felony offenses?

Yes, both sections are felony offenses in California due to the potential danger they pose.

What are potential penalties for conviction under VC 23153(a) and (b)?

Penalties include fines, license suspension, mandatory education programs, probation, restitution, and possible imprisonment.

Is it possible to avoid license suspension after conviction?

While license suspension is likely, an attorney can explore options to minimize the duration or seek restricted driving privileges.

Can individuals convicted under these sections face civil lawsuits?

Yes, injured parties may file civil lawsuits to seek compensation for medical expenses, pain, suffering, and other damages.

Can the absence of bodily injury affect charges under these sections?

Yes, if no bodily injury occurs, individuals could face charges under other DUI-related sections of the law.

Can a DUI attorney help in VC 23153(a) and (b) cases?

Yes, a DUI attorney can provide expert guidance, build a defense strategy, and negotiate on your behalf.

What factors can impact the severity of penalties for conviction?

Factors include the extent of injuries, prior criminal record, defendant's cooperation, and attorney's negotiation skills.

What should I do if I'm charged under VC 23153(a) or (b)?

Seek legal counsel immediately to understand your rights, build a defense, and navigate the legal process effectively.

Can I contest the validity of BAC test results?

Yes, an attorney can examine the testing process, equipment calibration, and other factors to challenge test results.

How can I contribute to road safety and prevent such incidents?

By never driving under the influence, adhering to traffic laws, and prioritizing safety, you can help create a safer driving environment for everyone.

About the Author

John Campanella

I have been representing people accused of drunk driving since I began practicing in 1995. I am active member of the National College of DUI Defense, a member of California DUI Lawyers Association, I am certified by the National Highway and Traffic Association for the administration of Field Sobriety Tests. I regularly attend DUI continuing education of the Bar, have tried over 35 Jury Trials, hundreds of pretrial motions and over 1000 DMV hearings all relating to DUI cases.


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