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What if Someone is Injured in the Crash?

Feb. 4, 2021

A charge of DUI Maiming is a serious charge in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The charge can occur if you were driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs and caused the serious bodily injury of another person which is permanent and significant.

If you have been charged with DUI Maiming, you face prison time, fines, and the possible loss of your license. Your ability to work, drive, and to live your daily life are at risk. Virginia attorney Bryan J. Jones knows the law and will protect your constitutional rights.

The Law: DUI Maiming

§ 18.2-51.4. Maiming, Etc., of Another Resulting from Driving While Intoxicated.

A. Any person who, as a result of driving while intoxicated in violation of § 18.2-266 or any local ordinance substantially similar thereto in a manner so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life, unintentionally causes the serious bodily injury of another person resulting in permanent and significant physical impairment shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. The driver's license of any person convicted under this section shall be revoked pursuant to subsection B of § 46.2-391.

B. The provisions of Article 2 (§ 18.2-266 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of Title 18.2 shall apply, mutatis mutandis, upon arrest for a violation of this section.

What the Commonwealth Must Prove

The Commonwealth of Virginia has the burden to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you are guilty of all of the elements of the crime of DUI Maiming before you can be convicted. The Commonwealth must prove that the accused driver:

  • drove while intoxicated;

  • in a manner so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life;

  • unintentionally caused serious bodily injury to another person; and

  • that the bodily injury resulted in permanent and significant physical impairment.

If the prosecutor fails to prove any one of the necessary elements of the charge, you are not guilty of DUI Maiming.

Driving While Intoxicated

A Virginia prosecutor must prove that the driver was under the influence of an intoxicant in violation of Va. Code § 18.2-266. Evidence can be presented that the driver was over the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level, or demonstrate alcohol or drug intoxication through blood or urine tests. Other evidence may be presented including field sobriety test results and erratic driving.

Field sobriety tests can be unreliable and in some cases, your Virginia attorney can reduce or even dismiss your charges.

Gross, Wanton, or Culpable

The prosecutor must also show that the accused's behavior was so gross, wanton, or culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life. Also known as criminal negligence, whether a driver drove with reckless disregard depends on whether the driver was or should have been aware of the likely consequences or risks of his or her actions.

If the driver was or should have been aware, but pursued that course of conduct anyway, this element can be proven by the prosecutor.

Serious Bodily Harm to Another Person

A Virginia prosecutor must also prove that serious bodily harm to another person occurred as the result of your conduct. To prove this element, the prosecutor must show that:

  • Unintentional: the harm was caused unintentionally (not on purpose) by the accused driver.

  • Bodily Injury: the injury to the victim's body is considered serious.

The definition of serious bodily harm can depend greatly on the specific facts of your case. Injuries such as broken bones, bruises, or other injuries can suffice for this particular element. If you have questions regarding your charge, you should consult with an experienced Virginia DUI attorney.

Permanent & Significant Physical Impairment

The Commonwealth must not only prove that injury occurred as a result of your DUI, but also that the injury is permanent and significant. Injuries that are expected to heal may not satisfy this element.

Death is not an "injury" as it relates to this particular charge. If a death occurs as the result of a DUI, a driver can be charged with DUI Involuntary Manslaughter.

However, injuries that likely satisfy this element include:

  • Loss of limb,

  • Permanent scarring on large and visible areas of the body,

  • Loss of pregnancy or fertility,

  • Facial deformities,

  • Organ loss or damage,

  • Brain damage which results in permanent loss of mental function.

Permanency and significance are both areas that can be challenged to potentially reduce or dismiss your DUI Maiming charge. Remember, just because you are charged with a crime does not mean that you will be found guilty.

Penalties for DUI Maiming in Virginia

In Virginia, DUI Maiming is a Class 6 felony. For comparison's sake, a typical first time DUI charge is a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of DUI Maiming, you face up to 5 years in prison with a potential fine of up to $2,500. At a minimum, you will face a sentence of 1 year in prison and a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000.

Your vehicle may also be subject to forfeiture as a result of your DUI Maiming conviction. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will also add 6 demerit points to your driver's license.

Driver's License Suspension

Your driver's license is immediately suspended upon your arrest for DUI Maiming. This suspension, called an administrative license suspension, lasts for a certain number of days depending on whether this is your first or subsequent DUI offense.

If you are convicted of DUI Maiming, your driver's license is revoked indefinitely, meaning that you are not allowed to drive for the rest of your life. However, after a minimum of 5 years has passed after the date of your conviction you can apply to have your driver's license privileges reinstated. It is never guaranteed that you will get back your driving privileges. That decision is solely at the discretion of the sentencing judge.

Consult an Experienced Attorney

If you have been charged with DUI Maiming, there are very real and serious consequences which will result from a conviction. Significant prison time, fines, and the loss of your driver's license may result if the Commonwealth can prove its case.

To protect your rights, you need Virginia attorney Bryan J. Jones to defend your case. Every case is unique, and just because you are charged with a crime does not mean you are guilty. Contact us today to schedule a consultation in your case.