Being at the defense table during a trial is not usually fun. Defendants often find themselves fighting uphill battles, particularly in cases regarding driving under the influence (DUI). Though DUI trials have much in common with jury trials for traffic tickets, they are more complex and emotions tend to run high due to the nature of the infraction. By employing certain tactics, individuals charged with DUI can present a strong defense and emerge winners.
Expert and Observer Witnesses
Most DUI cases that go to trial involve some type of scientific test, usually a breathalyzer or chemical test. The prosecution will present a witness with expertise in the test administered. This expert may be a medical professional or might be a law enforcement officer trained on the testing equipment and test administration. However, few law enforcement officers really understand how testing equipment produces results.
Presenting a strong defense requires exposing witnesses purporting to be experts. Be prepared to pay at least $1,000 to do this via defense witnesses with specialized knowledge. Indigent defendants may qualify to have the state pick up the tab. However, a judge will only agree to this when a defendant has a good chance of winning the case.
If other people observed things that will help the defense, they may be good witnesses. A jury will take the testimony of an impartial and objective observer witnesses most seriously. Individuals with no personal ties to the defendant who willingly testify based on first-hand observations make the best witnesses in a DUI case. Use them to support points made by the defense attorney during the court trial.
Two Types of Legal Motions
Experienced lawyers file motions before client cases go to trial. If a DUI case involves an illegal arrest or illegally obtaining evidence, the lawyer should request a pretrial hearing for the suppression of relevant evidence. If suppression is granted by the judge, the prosecution will not be able to present that evidence at trial. For repeat DUI offenders, the motion to strike a prior conviction reduces the severity of potential penalties in the current case.
During a DUI trial, the defendant has the right to testify but may also choose not to take the stand. Defendants should consult with their attorneys prior to trial to determine whether they make credible witnesses. If they plan to testify, they should rehearse their testimony to ensure it is airtight and they are not easily rattled.
DUIRights Support is comprised of legal writers and attorneys who are able to generate useful information about issues relating to DUI. Please use all information at your own discretion and never use the information as legal advice without consulting with an attorney.