What Does the Prosecutor Have to Prove in a DUI Case?
If you have been charged with a DUI, the prosecutor in the case will need to prove a variety of items took place to win a conviction on that charge. For instance, it may be necessary to show that the driver was actually at or above the legal limit for impairment when charged. It may also be necessary to show that there was probable cause to conduct a traffic stop or make contact with a driver.
What Is the Legal Blood Alcohol Limit?
The legal blood alcohol limit throughout America is .08 percent. This is roughly equivalent to four drinks, but the amount it takes to get to that threshold will vary depending on the weight and gender of a driver. It may also depend on whether an individual had eaten recently.
Can You Be Charged If You Are Under the Limit
You can be charged with DUI if you are at or under the legal limit. This is possible if the officer who takes you into custody believes that you are impaired or otherwise not fit to drive. In some cases, a person may test at or below the legal limit because the alcohol has yet to be fully absorbed into the bloodstream. Therefore, you may be charged and convicted of DUI regardless of what a Breathalyzer test says.
How Can a Prosecutor Prove Impairment?
There are several ways in which it can be proven that a driver was impaired when police made contact with that person. For instance, a driver may admit that he or she had been drinking prior to a traffic stop or prior to being found impaired inside of a vehicle. A series of field sobriety tests may also be conducted that may establish that a person is too intoxicated to drive.
However, field sobriety tests are generally not enough by themselves to show that a driver was drunk while behind the wheel. It may be necessary to include the results of a Breathalyzer test or the results of a blood or urine test as well. In some cases, authorities may need to get a warrant to take an individual’s blood or urine.
What Constitutes Probable Cause?
To charge a driver with a DUI, there must be some initial reason to stop a driver. This may be that an officer noticed a vehicle speeding or a vehicle that was being operated erratically. If an officer sees a bottle of beer in plain sight, that may be probable cause to suspect a driver may be impaired. Drivers may also emit a strong odor of alcohol when they talk.
What Are Some Common Defenses to a DUI Charge?
It may be possible to assert that a driver was simply experiencing a medical emergency at the time that he or she was pulled over. Medical issues could produce glassy or bloodshot eyes or cause a driver to slur his or her speech. It is also possible that a driver had knee or leg pain that made it hard to stand up or perform well on field sobriety tests.
Other defenses to a DUI charge may revolve around whether or not evidence was handled properly. For instance, a police officer may break chain of custody protocols or otherwise make mistakes that make it harder to determine if a driver really broke the law. If blood samples are not kept at a cold enough temperature, they too may be unreliable. As a result, they may be suppressed or otherwise not allowed to be considered during a case.
Does a Prosecutor Have to Prove All Elements to Win a Conviction?
In a criminal matter, the prosecution has to be able to show beyond a reasonable doubt that a person was driving while intoxicated. Unless there is video footage of a person being pulled over, it may be difficult to prove exactly what happened during a traffic stop or after an accident. This is why many DUI cases are resolved by a plea bargain or are thrown out entirely.
If you are charged with DUI, it is important to seek out legal counsel who may act as your advocate in the courtroom. Depending on the strength of the case against you, it may be possible to plea to a lesser charge or have a case dismissed before it even gets to trial.