When a driver sees flashing red and blue lights in their rearview mirror, panic can set in. Even if a driver thinks they have done nothing wrong, they may worry about why they are being pulled over. For drivers that have had a few drinks, they may worry that a traffic stop will lead to a drunk driving arrest, even if they are driving perfectly fine. However, attempting to evade the police will likely lead to additional criminal charges.
A California driver trying to evade police was involved in a serious accident that injured 8 people. West Covina police tried to make a traffic stop on a white Acura. Instead of pulling over, the 26-year-old driver, Robert Lopez, took off. According to the police department, Lopez had run a stop sign may have been suspected of driving under the influence when police tried to stop him.
Police were following the Acura, which ran another stop sign at an intersection, crashing into two other vehicles. The driver of a white Nissan Maxima, her 7-year-old and 8-month-old daughters were injured in the accident. The 4 occupants of a Ford Expedition were also injured in the accident. All 8 people involved in the accident were taken to the hospital.
After the suspected drunk driver was treated at the hospital, he was booked on suspicion of a felony DUI causing injury and felony evading arrest. If the driver had pulled over instead, he may only have faced a misdemeanor DUI charge.
Evading a police officer is generally a misdemeanor, charged as a violation of California Vehicle Code 2800.1. However, if the driver is involved in an accident, or causes injury or death, evading can be charged as a felony. Under Vehicle Code 2800.3, evading the causes serious injury is punishable by imprisonment for up to 7 years and a fine of up to $10,000. If evading lead to death, the penalty can by up to 10 years in jail.
A DUI arrest can be charged as a felony if the driver caused injury or death. Under California Vehicle Code 23153, “It is unlawful for a person, while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage 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.”
In the case above, if prosecutors charge the driver with a felony DUI causing injury, they will likely argue that running the stop sign was an unlawful act that caused the injury accident. The penalties can be increased if the accident resulted in great bodily injury. A prison sentence can also be increased for each person that suffers injury.
If you are facing felony DUI charges, call an experienced DUI attorney. At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending people in the East Bay charged with driving under the influence. For over 30 years, she has personally handled hundreds of cases involving people arrested for DUIs. If you have been arrested for a DUI here in the East Bay, there is still time to keep a conviction off your record, and keep your license. Contact a local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that you don't have to plead guilty just because you were arrested.