In Nebraska, DUI offenses that result in serious bodily injury are prosecuted with a high level of severity, reflecting the life-altering consequences these incidents have on victims’ lives. A conviction could mean a long jail sentence, substantial fines, and long-lasting repercussions that extend beyond the courtroom. In the following sections, Liberty Law Group explains what individuals need to know about DUI causing serious bodily injury, including the severity of penalties, potential alternatives to incarceration, possible defenses against these charges, and the importance of hiring a criminal defense attorney during this period of overwhelming uncertainty.

Omaha DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury Lawyer

From life in prison to crippling fines, DUI charges that include serious bodily injury can result in severe consequences. However, the DUI attorneys at Liberty Law Group are ready to defend our clients and provide you the representation you deserve.

If you or a loved one has been charged or arrested for a DUI charge in the state of Nebraska, call our firm at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

DUI Causing Bodily Harm

Back to top

What is DUI Causing Serious Bodily Injury?

Nebraska Revised Statutes 60-6,198 applies when a person driving under the influence of alcohol causes significant physical harm to another person or an unborn child. The law categorizes this offense as a Class IIIA felony, which is punishable by 0-3 years in prison followed by 9-18 months of post-release supervision and/or up to a $10,000 fine.

The consequences for someone convicted under this statute are quite severe. In addition to any other penalties that might be imposed for a DUI offense, the court is required to prohibit the convicted individual from driving any motor vehicle for a period ranging from a minimum of sixty days to a maximum of fifteen years. This ban starts from the date the court orders it. Furthermore, the offender’s driver’s license will be revoked for the same duration as the driving ban.

Terminology for DUI Causing Serious Bodily Harm

“Serious bodily injury” includes injuries that either present a substantial risk of death or cause serious and lasting disfigurement. Additionally, it covers injuries that result in either temporary or prolonged loss or impairment of any body part or organ’s function.

“Substantial risk of death” basically means that the injury sustained is severe enough to potentially lead to the victim’s death. It doesn’t mean that death is imminent or guaranteed, but rather that the possibility of death is real and significant due to the nature of the injury.

“Substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement” refers to injuries that may cause significant and lasting changes to the victim’s appearance. The term implies alterations to one’s physical appearance that are not only considerable but also enduring, meaning they cannot be easily repaired, if at all. This can include, but is not limited to, severe burns, deep lacerations, or injuries leading to the loss of limbs or significant scarring.

Temporary loss or impairment refers to a condition where the injured body part or organ is expected to recover its function over time. This implies that there is a significant period of dysfunction. Protracted loss or impairment indicates a more prolonged or extended period of dysfunction.

“Unborn child” refers to a human being at any stage of development inside the womb. This means that if a pregnant woman is involved in a DUI incident that causes harm to her unborn child, the offense falls under this statute.

Lastly, the law treats a DUI causing serious bodily injury as a separate crime from any other offenses that may have occurred during the same incident. This means that an individual could be charged with a standard DUI offense as well as the offense of DUI causing serious bodily injury.

Back to top

Failure to Stop in a DUI-Related Accident Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury

According to Nebraska Statute 60-698, if a person is convicted of leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in injury, they face severe penalties. Specifically, if the accident caused a minor injury, the individual is guilty of a Class IIIA felony punishable by 0-3 years in prison followed by 9-18 months of post-release supervision and/or up to a $10,000 fine. However, if the accident resulted in death or serious injury, the offense is classified as a Class III felony punishable by 0-4 years in prison followed by 9-24 months of post-release supervision and/or up to a $25,000 fine. Additionally, the law mandates that the convicted individual’s driving privileges be revoked. This revocation lasts for a period ranging from one to fifteen years, as determined by the court.

Back to top

Standard Penalties for DUI

In Nebraska, driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is governed by Nebraska Revised Statute 60-6,196. This law makes it illegal to operate or have actual physical control of a vehicle if the driver is under the influence of alcohol or any drug. It is also illegal if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or more by weight per 100 milliliters of blood, or 0.08% or more by weight per 210 liters of breath.

Additionally, Nebraska’s laws include an “implied consent” provision, meaning that anyone who drives in the state automatically consents to chemical testing (blood, breath, or urine) to determine alcohol concentration or drug presence. If a driver refuses this test, they can face criminal charges.

The penalties for DUI vary based on several factors, including the driver’s BAC level and their history of previous offenses. For a first offense with a standard BAC, the penalty is a Class W misdemeanor punishable by 0-60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Penalties also include license revocation for six months. If the individual’s BAC is 0.15% or higher, or if there’s a refusal to take a test, the penalties increase, including longer license revocation and possibly jail time.

For repeat offenders, the penalties become progressively more severe, as some repeat DUI offenses are classified as felonies. Penalties can include longer jail sentences, heftier fines, and longer periods of license revocation.

In Nebraska, DUI offenders can be subject to specific legal requirements aimed at rehabilitation and prevention of future offenses. For example, the law mandates the installation of ignition interlock devices in their vehicles, which act as breathalyzers to inhibit operation if alcohol is detected. Following a 45-day driving ban, offenders can drive vehicles with these devices until license reinstatement. Additionally, DUI offenders usually undergo an alcohol assessment by a licensed counselor to evaluate dependency issues, influencing sentencing and rehabilitation plans. Courts also often impose a mandatory alcohol abstinence condition, with violations leading to severe consequences like revocation of the interlock permit.

Finally, the use of alcohol monitoring devices may be required, continuously reporting alcohol levels to probation officers.

Back to top

License Suspension Following a DUI Arrest

According to Nebraska Revised Statute 60-498.01, those arrested for a serious DUI face automatic suspension of their driving license. This process starts immediately after the arrest, particularly if the individual refused a chemical test or the test showed a high level of alcohol. The arresting officer issues a notice of impending license suspension, which takes effect 15 days post-arrest. The individual has a 10-day period to request a hearing to contest this suspension. They may also apply for an ignition interlock permit or a permit under a 24/7 sobriety program. Opting for these permits means that the individual accepts the license suspension.

Restricting Vehicle Use

In Nebraska, those found guilty of a serious DUI, often involving repeated offenses, may face vehicle immobilization ranging from 5 days to 8 months. This entails the suspension of registration and license plates for all vehicles owned by the offender. If a third party, like a lienholder or another registered owner, has a valid claim to the vehicle, they can regain possession by providing an affidavit to the court.

The Far-Reaching Effects of a Serious DUI Conviction

A conviction for a serious DUI in Nebraska, especially one involving bodily injury, can have lasting repercussions on various aspects of life. This permanent criminal record can hinder employment prospects, particularly in roles that require driving. It can also complicate finding housing, as landlords often conduct thorough background checks. Financial burdens may increase due to substantial fines, higher insurance costs, and expenses linked to mandatory DUI programs. Students may face severe disciplinary actions from their colleges or universities, and professionals could risk losing their licenses.

Rehabilitative Sentencing Options for Felony DUI Offenders in Nebraska

For non-violent offenders facing serious DUI charges due to substance abuse, Nebraska offers the Adult Drug Court. This alternative to jail emphasizes treatment and recovery, typically lasting 18 to 24 months. The program includes substance abuse treatment, case management, and support for educational and employment goals. Participants undergo mental health treatment, frequent court reviews, random substance testing, and support group participation. Managed by a team of professionals, successful completion of the Adult Drug Court can result in charge dismissal, providing an opportunity for offenders to rebuild their lives.

Back to top

Potential Defenses

When charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs causing serious bodily injury, there are potential defenses that may be applicable depending on the specific circumstances of the case. One possible defense is challenging the allegation that the defendant was operating the vehicle under the influence. This could involve questioning the accuracy or legality of the sobriety tests used, such as the breathalyzer, blood tests, or field sobriety tests. If these tests were improperly administered or the equipment was not properly calibrated, it could cast doubt on the validity of the evidence.

Another defense could focus on the causation element required by the law. It could be argued that the defendant’s operation of the vehicle under the influence did not proximately cause the serious bodily injury. This could involve presenting evidence that other factors were the primary cause of the injury, such as the actions of the injured party or a third party, road conditions, or mechanical failures.

Additionally, the definition of “serious bodily injury” as outlined in the law could be contested. The defense could argue that the injuries sustained do not meet the definition of involving a substantial risk of death, serious permanent disfigurement, or significant loss or impairment of body function.

If the defendant was involuntarily intoxicated, meaning they were not aware they were consuming alcohol or drugs (e.g., spiked drinks), this also could be a viable defense. This defense would necessitate evidence proving the lack of knowledge or intent.

Back to top

How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

A criminal defense lawyer in Nebraska can provide meaningful assistance to someone charged with aggravated forms of DUI, including DUI causing serious bodily injury. First of all, the lawyer can challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution to ensure it meets the legal requirements. This includes examining the procedures and accuracy of sobriety tests, like breathalyzer or blood tests, and assessing if the alleged injuries meet the legal definition of “serious bodily injury” as defined in the law.

Furthermore, the lawyer can negotiate with prosecutors for a plea deal or reduced sentence, especially in cases where the evidence against the defendant is strong. This could involve reduced charges or alternative sentencing options like rehabilitation programs.

Finally, the lawyer provides guidance through the legal process, ensuring the defendant understands their rights and the proceedings. They also help in mitigating the severe consequences of such charges, which include prison time, fines, and long-term suspension of driving privileges. Ultimately, a criminal defense lawyer plays a major role in defending the rights of the accused, challenging the prosecution’s case, and seeking the most favorable outcome under the law.

Back to top

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you cause serious bodily injury while driving under the influence in Nebraska?

Individuals face Class IIIA felony charges, potential imprisonment, and a prolonged ban from driving.

How does Nebraska law define ‘serious bodily injury’ in DUI cases?

Injuries risking death, causing lasting disfigurement, or impairing bodily functions.

How does Nebraska’s ‘implied consent’ law affect you in a DUI case?

It means automatically consenting to chemical testing, with penalties for refusal.

What is the process for license suspension following a DUI arrest in Nebraska?

A suspension following arrest, with options to contest the suspension or apply for alternative permits.

What does vehicle restriction involve for serious DUI offenses in Nebraska?

Vehicle immobilization, including suspension of registration and license plates.

What are rehabilitation options for felony DUI offenders in Nebraska?

Participation in post-plea programs like the Adult Drug Court, focusing on treatment and recovery.

What are some defenses that can be used in a DUI case involving serious bodily injury in Nebraska?

Challenging the accuracy of sobriety tests, handling of chemical tests, and causation of injury.

Back to top

Additional Resources

DUI and Serious Bodily Injury: This article explains the definition of serious bodily injury to include unconsciousness, extreme pain, loss of mental facilities, permanent disfigurement or impairment of a body function, and injuries where there is a real risk of death, as in a case of heavy bleeding.

Drunk Driving Injuries: This article explains some legal remedies for those injured by an impaired driver. Explains that aggravating factors in any DUI charges include causing serious bodily injury in a DUI-related crash. Also provides 20 years of alcohol-related crash and injury data and explains Nebraska DUI laws.

Deadly DUI Crash Results in Guilty Plea: This news article discusses sentencing for a man who caused a deadly Memorial Day crash on O Street in Lincoln in 2022. Explains that the offender was driving under the influence of marijuana and going at nearly 90 miles an hour when he crashed into another vehicle, causing both cars to crash into a crowd of people; two young women were killed in the crash and 20 others were injured. Also notes that the defendant agreed to a plea deal, pleading guilty to amended charges of manslaughter and DUI causing serious bodily injury.

Back to top

Find a Defense Lawyer for DUI Causing Serious Bodily Harm

Our attorneys at Liberty Law Group are ready to defend you against DUI charges.

Our firm proudly serves Omaha in Douglas County, including Lincoln in Lancaster County, Papillion in Sarpy County, Fremont in Dodge County and Council Bluffs in Pottawattamie County, Iowa and the surrounding areas. If you or a loved one has been charged or is under investigation for a DUI crime, don’t wait, call our firm immediately at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

Back to top