Charges of aggravated assault by vehicle caused by driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Pennsylvania are serious. If you are facing these types of charges, it is critical for you to retain an experienced assault lawyer as soon as possible.
If you are convicted of committing a DUI-related vehicular assault, you can face a sentence to prison, stiff fines, suspension of your driving privileges, and multiple collateral consequences. Having a criminal record can harm your reputation and cause the loss of your employment.
Michael DiCindio at DiCindio Law is an experienced attorney who is prepared to fight for your rights and freedoms. Schedule a consultation to learn about the legal options that you have in your case.
Vehicular Aggravated Assault From DUI
Under 75 Pa.CS 3735.1, you can be charged with aggravated assault by a vehicle related to driving under the influence when you negligently another person to suffer serious bodily injury because of driving while you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Pennsylvania defines a serious bodily injury as any injury that poses a substantial risk of death, causes permanent, serious disfigurement, or causes impairment to or the loss of organs or bodily functions.
Before you can be found guilty of aggravated assault by a vehicle, you must first be found guilty of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol under 75 Pa.CS 3802.
To prove you are guilty of a DUI offense, the prosecutor has the burden to prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You drove, had actual physical control of, or operated a motor vehicle on a road in Pennsylvania.
- You drank enough alcohol to be impaired or had an alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher within two hours of when you drove; or
- You had a concentration of drugs in your system.
Being impaired by alcohol means that you were not capable of safely operating your vehicle. This means that your normal physical or mental capacities to drive a vehicle were impaired. This does not mean that you were severely intoxicated or engaged in erratic driving behaviors.
You do not have to be caught driving to be convicted of a DUI in Pennsylvania. If you were in actual physical control of your vehicle, you can be charged with a DUI. Being in actual physical control means that you must have control of your vehicle or be in a position to control its movement at the time of your arrest.
For example, if an officer finds you sitting behind the wheel of a stopped vehicle with your keys in the ignition, that can be enough to charge you even if he or she did not see you driving.
Once a prosecutor proves that you committed a DUI offense beyond a reasonable doubt, he or she will then need to prove that you committed an aggravated vehicular assault.
Causation For Aggravated Vehicular Assault With A DUI In Chester County, PA
To find you guilty of committing a DUI aggravated assault, the jury must find that you directly caused the victim’s serious bodily injuries. Your actions must have been the substantial and direct factor that led to the victim’s injuries. Even if some other factors contributed to the injuries, you can be found guilty if your actions were one of the direct causes of the accident and injuries.
If an intervening factor caused the victim’s injuries, you will not be found guilty of aggravated assault. Intervening factors might include a different event, a third party’s actions, or the victim’s actions. However, your actions can still be found to be the direct cause of the injuries even when they were not the immediate cause. If your actions initiated a chain of events that caused the victim’s injuries, you can be found guilty of committing an aggravated vehicular assault.
The fact that a victim already had a preexisting physical condition will not be a defense to aggravated vehicular assault. If the accident caused the victim’s preexisting condition to substantially worsen, you can still be found guilty.
Penalties For An Aggravated Assault By A Vehicle With A DUI
If you are convicted of aggravated vehicular assault while you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is a second-degree felony. This felony offense level can result in a prison sentence from five to 10 years and a fine of up to $25,000.
You will also face penalties for the underlying DUI offense. Pennsylvania has a three-tier system for DUI offenses based on your BAC level within two hours of your accident. The penalties for a DUI will depend on your BAC and your prior record. Your vehicular assault lawyer can explain the penalties that you might face if you are convicted of a DUI.
In addition to the other potential penalties, being convicted of vehicular aggravated assault can also result in losing your driving privileges for 12 months.
Talk To A DUI Aggravated Assault Attorney In Chester County, Pennsylvania
If you are facing charges of aggravated vehicular assault while driving under the influence, you should get legal help. Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law to request a consultation. Michael DiCindio is a skilled defense attorney who has previous experience working as a prosecutor, and he understands how to defend against these types of allegations. Call us at (610) 430-3535 to learn more about your case.