Proving Driving in a San Diego DUI Case

  • September 1, 2017

    Police officers patrol the streets of San Diego in an effort to keep those streets safe for both citizens and visitors. Those officers have the legal authority to stop anyone suspected of driving under the influence. California has several codes that specifically state drivers cannot operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of any substance, which includes both drugs and alcohol. When the prosecution agrees to take the case, those attorneys must prove without a reasonable doubt that not only were you under the influence but that you operated a moving vehicle.

    Testing You for Substance Use

    At the scene of the arrest or accident, officers will ask you to take a field sobriety test. Answering simple questions, walking in a straight line and doing other basic tasks can prove that you are sober. The officer may request that you submit to a breathalyzer instead. If you refuse to take any of these tests, you may find yourself spending the night or at least several hours at the police station. Officers use these tests as a way to establish that you were under the influence at the time. They can even use tests to determine the concentration of alcohol in your bloodstream.

    Proving You Were Behind the Wheel

    Even if police can prove that you were under the influence, they will still need to prove that you were also behind the wheel of a car and that the car was operational at the time. If the prosecution cannot prove this, you may face a public intoxication charge rather than a DUI. Officers can state under oath that they saw you operating that vehicle. If they had dashboard cameras running at the time, they may submit the recordings into evidence. Officers can also gather any witnesses and have them testify that you were behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.

    What Constitutes a Moving Vehicle?

    Though you might think of a moving vehicle as one that is operational at the time, the law looks at things in a different way. People vs. Martinez, a case heard in 2007, established that courts could hold drivers guilty of a DUI for being in a car with the engine turned on, even if the car did not move. If you drive home drunk, park your car in your driveway and are still inside with the lights on and/or the engine running, the police can charge you with a DUI. You may even find yourself facing a DUI charge because your BAC was high while sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car.

    Parked Vehicles

    San Diego drivers may have the opportunity to fight a DUI charge because they were in a parked vehicle and already took steps to prevent their vehicles from moving. If you had any friends or loved ones with you at the time, you can ask them to testify for you in court. They can make it clear that you did not have access to your keys, that the vehicle was not on at the time or that you were not even in the driver’s seat.

    If the Prosecution Cannot Prove a DUI

    Proving a DUI requires that the prosecution prove that you were both under the influence of a substance and that you were inside your car and operating it at the same time. The court will hold the prosecution responsible for proving both parts before the case can go to trial. Something as simple as a faulty camera or a witness who doesn’t show up to court can prevent the prosecution from proving its case. This can result in the court throwing out the case and letting you off without a conviction.

    Proving that a driver is guilty of a DUI is harder than you might think. Though police and the prosecution can easily prove that you were under the influence, they may have a harder time proving that you were in a moving vehicle at the time. If you think that you have a case and that you should not face a DUI conviction, you should consult with a San Diego DUI attorney as soon as possible. Local attorneys can help gather evidence that shows you were not driving.

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