Elements of the Offense in a California DUI / DWI Case

Elements of the Offense in a California DUI DWI CaseIn order to be convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI), the prosecutor has the burden of proving his or her case beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor’s case is not 100 percent free of reasonable doubt, the accused motorist is entitled to a judgment of not guilty. This standard, the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, is fundamental to our criminal justice system, and DUI is a criminal case. This begs the question: How are cases proved or disproved?

A drunk driving case, like any other criminal case, is proved through the elements of the offense. Every criminal prosecution, whether a driving under the influence of alcohol case, a driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) case, or any other criminal case, hinges on the ability (or failure) to prove each and every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. In the event there is a reasonable doubt as to any element of the crime charged, the accused must be found not guilty.

To obtain a conviction in a DUI case, a prosecutor must prove that the accused was:

  • Driving
  • a Vehicle
  • While Under the Influence of alcohol or other drugs
  • Or in violation of the “Per Se” laws (above the legal limit)

The elements in a drunk driving case appear to be straightforward enough; however, there are fine distinctions that experienced DUI criminal defense attorneys will be able to use to their clients’ advantage.

The ability to defend against one or more of these elements is at the heart of every successful DUI / DWI case. Criminal defense lawyers who concentrate on DUI defense are well aware that these issues are not so easily resolved in a drunk driving case, but they can be overcome.

Remember, the standard of proof in every court in the United States is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest level of proof that is known in our judicial system. It is higher than the level of proof that is required to remove a child from the family home. It is the same in a DUI / DWI case as it is in a murder case. A criminal defense attorney who is truly skilled in drunk driving defense will know just how to communicate this responsibility to jurors.

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