You see it on the road every day in the Bay Area - somebody is driving way too fast and way to crazy for the freeways or local streets. Every time you see this happen you wish that the driver gets pulled over by the CHP or the police. But, it seems like they never do. These drivers never get in trouble.
But, what about the driver who has no prior accidents or tickets and makes an unsafe left turn on an unprotected green light? The driver cuts in front of a quickly approaching vehicle and doesn't make it in time. The two cars collide and the driver of the of the oncoming car suffers a concussion. Well, in California, the driver who made the unsafe turn can now face a felony for which she can face up to 3-years in the county jail. The crime is "Reckless Driving Causing Injury to Person other than Driver," punishable under California Vehicle Code section 23105.
California Vehicle Code section 23105 makes it a felony or misdemeanor, i.e., wobbler, for an individual to drive recklessly and personally cause any of the following injuries to a non-accomplice:
(1) A loss of consciousness.
(2) A concussion.
(3) A bone fracture.
(4) A protracted loss or impairment of function of a bodily member or organ.
(5) A wound requiring extensive suturing.
(6) A serious disfigurement.
(7) Brain injury.
As discussed above, the prosecutor can choose to file the charges against the driver as a felony. However, the prosecutor has discretion to file the charge against the driver as a misdemeanor. As a misdemeanor, the punishment for this offense is up to six months in the county jail. The minimum is 30 days of jail. Of course, the argument is that with the granting of probation for this offense that 30 days in jail is not the minimum period of confinement. Theoretically, an individual can avoid jail time for this offense completely with the grant of probation.
Now, when an individual drives recklessly and causes an injury, but not one of the injuries described above, then the prosecutor is limited to charging this individual with a misdemeanor crime of "Reckless Driving Causing Bodily Injury" in violation of California Vehicle Code section 23104(a). This offense is punishable by a maximum of 6 months in the county jail. The minimum is 30 days in jail. The same arguments above about no minimum jail time apply to this offense as well. * If you want to know what reckless driving means, check out our page on reckless driving.
Although, the punishment gets more severe if an individual has a prior conviction for any of the following Vehicle Code offenses: 23103 (reckless driving), 23104 (reckless driving causing injury), 23105 (reckless driving causing injury to person other than driver), 23109 (exhibition of speed), 23109.1 (exhibition of speed causing injury), 23152 (DUI), or 23153 (DUI causing injury), and causes Great Bodily Injury in violation of Penal Code section 12022.7 to a person other than the driver. In this circumstance, the individual can be sent to county jail for up to 3 years. And, the driver can face a Strike within the meaning of California Penal Code section 1192.8(a), if the prosecutor proves that the driver personally caused the Great Bodily Injury to a non-accomplice, i.e., the driver intentionally turned the wheel on the unprotected green light - as opposed to the driver unintentionally turned the wheel, for example, during a seizure. But, you know what is even crazier about the unprotected green light example above? Answer, the prosecutor can charge and potentially convict the driver of assault with a deadly weapon. (See, People v. Aznavoleh, (2012) 210 Cal. App. 4th 1181.) Which, by the way, is a Strike offense.
The bottom line here is that if you are charged with reckless driving causing injury, you must contact an excellent criminal defense lawyer right away. At Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law, we are here to help. We can help you fight to get your felony reduced, and/or to avoid jail, or a wrongful conviction.