Individuals accused of driving under the influence (DUI) in California are entitled to a fair trial in front of a jury of their peers. If you take your DUI charges to court, the prosecution bears the responsibility of demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty.
Establishing guilt requires the prosecution to prove a DUI case in court. Use this article to go over the facts that must be proven by the prosecution in DUI cases. The Simmrin Law Group can also help you focus on methods to dispute claims made by prosecutors in California.
Elements That Must Be Proven in DUI Cases
In order to secure a conviction on DUI charges in California, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:
- Operated a motor vehicle while
- Under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Unless the prosecution can establish both of these elements, you should not be convicted of a DUI in the state of California. Let’s go over the methods often used to prove these elements in court.
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Proving That You Were Driving a Vehicle
Prosecutors often rely on witness testimony to prove that you were operating a vehicle in California. In many cases, this testimony will be provided by the law enforcement officers who arrested you. Civilians who were at the scene of the arrest may also provide testimony. In many cases, prosecutors will work to show that:
- You were behind the wheel of the vehicle
- You had possession of the vehicle’s keys
- You were in control of the movement of your vehicle
Note that, in California, you should not face DUI charges just for sitting in the driver’s seat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Your vehicle must be in movement for you to face DUI charges.
Proving That You Were Inebriated
In order to secure a DUI conviction, prosecutors must show that you were inebriated – or under the influence – while operating your vehicle. While working to establish this fact, prosecutors may present:
- The results of your field sobriety test (FST)
- The results of any chemical tests you took
The state of California has set forth legal limits on blood alcohol content (BAC) for drivers. If your chemical test results show that your BAC was at or above 0.08% this information can be used to prove the prosecution’s case.
Additionally, the prosecution may call witnesses to the stand to testify that you were inebriated. They may question:
- The arresting officer who performed your FST and chemical tests
- The laboratory technicians who completed any chemical tests
- Expert witnesses who can explain the function of chemical tests
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Disputing the Prosecution’s Case in DUI Trials
Thus far, we have discussed the arguments made by the prosecution in DUI cases. You will also have the opportunity to present a defense in a DUI trial. You can immediately improve your odds of constructing a strong defense by working with a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles.
A DUI lawyer can go over your case before the trial to focus on your defense. Depending upon your situation, a legal professional could:
- Cross-examine witnesses to dispute the accuracy of their statements
- Work with experts to argue against the theories put forth by the prosecution
- Question the accuracy of your BAC test results
In some situations, your DUI lawyer could be able to offer an alternative explanation for erratic driving behavior or even the results of your FST and BAC tests. For example, if you were ill at the time of a DUI arrest, it could have resulted in a failure on your FST.
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Alternative Means of Resolving DUI Charges
You should be aware that not all DUI charges are resolved in court in California. In fact, many DUI charges are handled before they ever reach trial. A criminal defense lawyer could work to get your charges dismissed in some situations.
In other cases, your lawyer could negotiate with prosecutors to secure a plea bargain. Plea bargains require you to plead guilty to a lessened charge so you face less severe penalties. Allow a lawyer to review your case so you can get professional advice about the best way to resolve DUI accusations in California.
Get Help Handling a DUI Case in Court
Proving a DUI case in court can allow the prosecution to secure a conviction. Make sure you are ready to face DUI charges head-on by reaching out to the Simmrin Law Group. We can work to defend you in and out of the courtroom. Find out how by filling out our online contact form or calling (310) 896-2723.
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