What is the Significance of Great Bodily Injury in a DUI?

Posted by Ronald D. HeddingOct 20, 2023

For those people who are involved in an accident and are driving under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, drugs, or a combination of any of those, and somebody gets seriously injured, they may have a GBI allegation against them. 

That stands for “great bodily injury.”  The person will have to be pretty hurt, and sometimes that's where so many arguments are in these GBI/DUI cases – that a person is not hurt enough to trigger the great bodily injury – because the significance of it is a number of important issues.

California Vehicle Code 23152 VC defines the crime of driving under the influence (DUI). Penal Code 12022.7 PC defines the sentencing enhancement for a great bodily injury (GBI) as a significant or substantial physical injury.

Felony Case

Number one, great bodily injury attached to any felony is a strike of that felony.  Any prison time you get will be served at 85%.  Also, the great bodily injury makes a case that generally might be a misdemeanor into a felony. 

So, you'll have a felony on your record and will never be able to own, use, or possess a weapon, never be able to vote, and several other things related to felony convictions.

Three Years Added to Sentence

The final thing that a great bodily injury does is it adds three years to the back of any sentence.  For example, if you got two years for a felony DUI and had a GBI allegation that you had to admit, that would add three years, for a total of five years served at 85%, and you would have a strike on your record. 

So, you start to see how back these great bodily injury allegations are.  These are some of the things that good defense attorneys fight against.

Experienced DUI Defense

Some of the DUI lawyers are not equipped to deal with these.  They're just used to dealing with small DUI cases and can't handle big instances in which people face many years in prison.  I end up taking over many of these serious cases from inexperienced lawyers who don't have the experience or money to deal with these offenses.

I can tell you right now you want to get a good lawyer right off the top if you're charged with a felony DUI with great bodily injury, and you want to investigate every single angle, such as the following:

  • How bad is the injury? Sometimes, the injuries are over-inflated because people attempt to get money from a personal injury case.  They have a lawyer and are trying to load up their injuries when it's just a soft tissue injury.  So, that's one thing to look at.
  • Another thing to look at is who was at fault for the accident because if the accident is not your fault, you're not responsible for the great bodily injury or the felony. You're responsible for the DUI if they can prove that your blood alcohol level was a .08 or greater. 

Negotiation with Prosecutor

Even if they've got you for the great bodily injury and they've got you for the felony DUI, there are certain things we can do to try to mitigate the circumstances and see if we can convince the prosecutor not to admit the great bodily injury, or even if you have to admit the great bodily injury, that you don't get that three-year prison sentence that comes along with it.

All sorts of things can be done depending on the facts and circumstances of your case.  So, if you or a loved one needs the best – you're charged with great bodily injury and facing many years in prison – get somebody like me who's been doing this for over 30 years. 

I started working for the prosecutors, I've worked for a superior court judge, and since the early 1990s, I've been defending people like you on very serious DUI matters.  Pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.

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