Felony Dui With Great Bodily Injury Case In California

The appellant in People v. Sainz (1999) 74 Cal. App. 4th 565 was convicted of driving while intoxicated, causing great bodily injury. (Veh. Code, 23153, subd. (b), former 23180.) The court also enhanced the sentence under section 12022.7. Appellant contended that Vehicle Code section 23190 provided the exclusive, specific statutory scheme for punishing intoxicated drivers who caused great injury to others. Under principles of statutory construction, the court held the rule which permits a specific statute to trump a similar but general statute did not apply because the elements required to enhance a sentence under section 12022.7 did not perfectly mirror those necessary to convict under Vehicle Code section 23153. (Sainz, supra, 74 Cal. App. 4th at pp. 570-572.) Regardless of the specific versus general statute rule, the court also held that the Legislature's limited specification of crimes exempt from section 12022.7--murder, manslaughter, and arson--showed an intent to apply that section broadly. (74 Cal. App. 4th at pp. 572-574.) The Sainz court did not consider or discuss the other specified exception to section 12022.7--for crimes where the infliction of great bodily injury was an element of the offense. The issue here is not one of specific versus general statutes. The issue is whether infliction of great bodily injury is an element of the felony offense of evading a pursuing peace officer. It is. In order to qualify as a felony, the defendant's evasive conduct must have caused "death or serious bodily injury . . . ." (Veh. Code, 2800.3.) Accordingly, the court erred in imposing the section 12022.7 enhancements.