Under the United States justice system, the defendant is assumed to be innocent until he or she is proven guilty in a court of law. This is because as a U.S. citizen, you are granted numerous essential rights and liberties, including the presumption of innocence should you ever be accused of committing a crime. This means that if you are involved in a DWI case, your guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be convicted of the DWI charges against you.
In such a situation, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution to show that you were actually guilty of drunk driving. The state must therefore submit evidence that shows you are satisfactorily guilty, and that no sensible person would have reason to believe otherwise. If the prosecution is unable to meet the burden of proof for the various elements of your DWI case, then the judge or jury cannot find you guilty of the offense.
The Constitution demands that there be proof of all elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the highest burden in the law, as it requires that all reasonable alternatives of a story be eliminated. If the defense can show that the prosecution failed to prove all the elements of the DWI case, then you should not be found guilty.
However, before even getting to the issue of reasonable doubt, first probable cause for the charges against you must be established. This means that in a DWI case, the prosecution must first also meet the burden of showing that the arresting officer had reason to stop you, and that the officer subsequently had reason to suspect that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol and place you under arrest.
If the traffic stop was justifiable, the officer then needs to meet the the probable cause requirement and validate the reasons for suspecting you of DWI. For instance, you must show signs of impairment such as having bloodshot eyes or slurred speech before the officer can legally ask you to perform a chemical or breathalyzer test. If, however, the initial traffic stop was based on an invalid reason, then the chemical test results or any other evidence collected later on may be subject to suppression.
There are various defenses that may be used to create reasonable doubt for your conviction—even if the prosecuting attorney meets all the requirements for probable cause. In order to show reasonable doubt, a DWI attorney may choose to question the accuracy of the chemical tests or of the field sobriety tests that were performed. There may be reasonable doubt, for instance, if the defense attorney can show that the test results were affected by external factors or were not properly administered. In some instances, a person’s medical history may also be used to justify his or her behavior at the time of the arrest.
Of course, the best way to determine the best DWI defense strategy to utilize for your particular situation is to consult with a knowledgeable DWI attorney at the soonest possible time after the arrest.