East Los Angeles Bus Crash Injures 14; Teen Arrested for DUI
On Wednesday, August 19, 2020, the police and emergency services responded to the scene of a traffic accident in East Los Angeles. A Metro bus slammed into a yellow Volkswagen Beetle.
Fourteen people were injured and taken to an area hospital. Eleven of the victims sustained minor injuries in the crash. Three people were in critical condition at the hospital.
Reports indicate that the crash occurred about 10:45 p.m. The police arrested the 17-year-old driver of the Volkswagen Beetle on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Potential for Felony DUI Charges
DUI charges in California range from misdemeanors to felonies. When a drunk driver causes an accident that results in serious bodily injury or death, the driver can be charged with felony DUI. However, being involved in an accident while intoxicated does not prove that you caused the crash.
In the above story, the source does not indicate whether the bus driver or the teenager was responsible for causing the crash. The story merely stated that the bus collided with the car, and police officers arrested the teen driver under suspicion of driving under the influence.
For the state to prove a felony DUI charge related to a traffic accident, the state must prove that your ability to drive the automobile was compromised by the alcohol you had in your system.
If your BAC at the time of the accident was .08 or above, you are considered to have been under the influence. However, if your BAC is between .05 and .08, the state will need other evidence to support the allegation that you were under the influence at the time of the crash.
Punishments for Felony DUI Charges
If you are convicted of felony DUI causing serious injury or death, you could face multiple penalties. The penalties for this type of a DUI conviction are:
- 16 months to 16 years in prison
- Suspended driver’s license for up to five years
- Up to a $5,000 fine
- Payment of restitution to the accident victims
- Compulsory DUI school for up to 30 months
In addition to the criminal penalties, you could also face civil penalties. The accident victims may sue you for damages caused by the DUI accident. Damages in a civil claim may include medical bills, lost wages, physical pain, emotional suffering, permanent impairment, and loss of quality of life.
You may also find it difficult to obtain work in specific careers because of a felony conviction. Felony convictions can also impact your visitation and custody rights, your ability to own firearms, and eligibility to qualify for certain government programs.
Defenses Against a Felony DUI Charge
Being arrested for DUI and convicted of driving under the influence are two separate matters. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the charges against you.
As soon as possible, it is wise to contact a DUI defense lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options for defending yourself against the charges. Potential defenses may include:
- No one involved in the accident died or was seriously injured
- You did not cause the accident
- You were not under the influence at the time of the accident
- The police failed to conduct field sobriety tests or chemical tests correctly
- The chain of evidence was broken
- The specimen was contaminated
- Your legal rights were violated
You and your attorney can discuss the specifics of your case to determine the best defense strategy to use to give you the best chance of a positive outcome in your case.
Does Car Insurance Cover DUI Accident Damages?
If you are accused of causing a DUI accident, the victims may file an insurance claim against your car insurance coverage. In most cases, car insurance covers damages caused by a DUI accident when the insured caused the crash.
However, your insurance company may choose to deny the claim. If so, the accident victims may file a personal injury lawsuit against you. Your insurance provider may retain an attorney to defend the lawsuit, but the attorney is looking out for the insurance company.
It would be best if you discussed the matter with an attorney who represents your best interests. You could find yourself fighting cases in criminal court and civil court. Having experienced legal counsel to give you advice is crucial.
If you have minimum car insurance coverage, the victims could receive a personal judgment against you for any amount above your car insurance coverage.
California allows judgment holders to garnish wages for personal judgments. Therefore, you could also have your wages garnished if you caused a DUI accident that resulted in injuries and damages to other parties.