In order to obtain a conviction in a criminal case, a prosecutor must prove each and every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In the case of DUI / DWI or drunk driving, the prosecutor must prove that the motorist was driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or violated the state’s per se laws, meaning he or she had a blood alcohol content (BAC) above .08 percent.
That means that in addition to establishing that the motorist was driving under the influence, the prosecutor must also prove the fact that the accused was in fact driving a vehicle. If it cannot be shown that a vehicle was driven, a DUI / DWI drunk driving case will not stand up in court. An experienced California drunk driving attorney can evaluate a DUI case to plan a strategy to create reasonable doubt in one or more elements of the offense.
Remember, our justice system requires that each of 12 jurors be convinced of the defendant’s guilt on each element of the offense. If even one juror has a reasonable doubt about even one element of the offense, the defendant cannot be convicted. If one or more jurors is not convinced of the defendant’s guilt on any element of the offense, the case often ends in a hung jury. This is good news for the defendant, because the prosecutor often opts not to retry the case.
The definition of “vehicle” varies from state to state. The California Vehicle Code defines the term “vehicle” as “a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.” This includes automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, scooters, and bulldozers.
Bicycles, airplanes, and horses are not vehicles under California’s drinking and driving laws, but riding or operating them under the influence of alcohol is covered under separate statutes.
Drunk driving cases can be fought and won with the help of an experienced attorney who knows how to address each and every element of the case. Anyone facing charges of drinking and driving or driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) should consult with a California DUI / DWI lawyer who specializes in defending driving under the influence cases.