While each state has a different version of the law against drinking and driving, most state laws share many common elements. But as pointed out by one DUI lawyer Virginia Beach VA drivers no longer have to be “intoxicated” to be charged and convicted of this crime. Police and prosecutors only have to prove that your normal faculties were impaired.
What Happens at a DUI Trial?
The one things attorneys point out is not to represent yourself at a DUI trial. It may seem simple to try and argue the fine points of a police officer’s subjective reasoning on if you were driving while drunk, but it’s an entirely different matter to present your case to a jury. You must have through knowledge of the rules of evidence and criminal procedure, know when to object and what to object to and know how to present your theory of the case so that the jury will accept your viewpoint. A DUI case requires the experienced skills of an attorney.
The prosecutor will present police documentation from the arrest which includes breath test results, blood or urine test results, observation reports from any field sobriety tests and video of stopping your vehicle. If any video was taken at the police department, this will also be submitted into evidence.
Your attorney will review all the documentation and evidence in the State’s case and try to determine the weak points. There may be reason to file pre-trial motions, and win the case before it even goes to trial. These motions can suppress evidence, and if successful, the court can exclude some or all evidence in the state’s case. If you’re fortunate enough to win any motions, the State may decide not to proceed because of a weak case.
Also, if the State’s case is not strong, your attorney can ask that charges be reduced to reckless driving. Fines for DUI convictions can run upwards of $10,000, and fines for reckless driving are about $2500. However, while you will still accumulate points on your driving record, you won’t face suspension, as you would with a DUI.
If this is a first offense, the State Attorney will consider the lesser offense of reckless driving, rather than risk a not guilty verdict, but they must have good faith in not being able to convict on a DUI charge.
When It’s Not Your First Offense
It becomes more complex when representing successive DUI offenses. Many attorneys start by submitting several motions, trying to suppress evidence. Consider the field sobriety tests. Studies show they should not be classified as tests because they are non-scientific, have no probative value, and are misleading. So, an attorney will poke holes in the reliability of these tests.
Then there is the reasonable basis for the traffic stop. If there was no reason to make the traffic stop, then the motion may have a chance of success, and all the evidence gathered at the stop would not be admissible.
Every DUI case is not always the same, and thus the theories for any defense will change, but the most important element of a successful outcome is having experienced representation.