Evidence in a DC DUI Trial

Evidence is the foundation of every criminal case. Both the prosecution and the defense examine and collect evidence with the purpose of strengthening their own argument while weakening the opposition’s case. That is why it is important to work with a lawyer that has experience collecting evidence and using it to build a person’s case. If you have been charged with a DUI offense, speak with a capable DUI attorney that could use evidence in a DC DUI trial to build a solid defense for you.

Elements the Prosecution Must Prove

In DUI cases, the defense often wants to challenge certain aspects of a case because the government has to prove that the defendant was in actual physical control of a vehicle in the District of Columbia and, at that time, was impaired to a noticeable degree by prior consumption of drugs or alcohol. The focus is going to be on combating those key issues, those key points. It is rare to have the government get the location wrong to such a degree that it is outside of the jurisdiction of the District of Columbia but nonetheless, the District of Columbia shares borders with both Virginia and Maryland and, particularly with Maryland, one can literally cross the street and they are in a different jurisdiction.

The government has to prove that the event occurred or the incident occurred in the District of Columbia otherwise, the court has no jurisdiction. It is rare for the government to get that wrong but nonetheless, if there is an argument to be made because police officers are not necessarily the most accurate people at times, the attorney will focus on that if there is an argument or issues dealing with that specific point. Then, if there are witnesses or any bits of evidence in a DC DUI trial that can establish any other issues about the case that would weaken the government’s argument, that could be helpful. Anything that can combat that will be focused upon by the defense, whether that be the body-worn camera footage.

Role of Police Reports in DUI Trials

The police officers will often write their reports before they view the camera footage that is on their chest because it is not immediately downloadable to them within a few hours of the arrest when they are writing up the report. The police officers may exaggerate certain elements in their report and make their allegations of why they think this defendant was operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the District of Columbia, and they will focus on things like bloodshot, watery eyes, moderate odor of alcohol, slurred speech, balance issues, failure to follow directions, slow in responding or comprehending.

The police may make those allegations but then once the lawyers get the body-worn camera footage, they will be able to see whether or not the police officer’s allegations are accurate, exaggerated, accidental, or just wrong. An attorney will be able to examine that and to the extent that the body-worn camera footage contradicts the testimony and evidence put on by the government, then the defense will want to highlight those inconsistencies and contradictions.

Defendant Testimony as Evidence

Often times, but not always, the defendant will testify on their own behalf and that constitutes valid evidence in a DC DUI trial. A defendant under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution has the absolute right not to testify against themselves. If they are being put on trial, the court will be able to compel them to testify in a trial against that. However, if they do want to testify, then they have the absolute right to do so and, depending upon the specific facts of the case and the specific characteristics of the defendant, an attorney will advise the defendant as to the efficacy of presenting testimony on their own behalf and, if they are going to do so, then the attorney will properly prepare them for how being a witness in a criminal trial goes, what direct examination is like, what cross-examination is like. If they are going to utilize them, then the attorney will make sure they are properly prepared and then they will take the stand and give their testimony as well.

Expert Witnesses in DUI Cases

There are times where specific facts of the case warrant the use of expert opinion, meaning the attorney will have to call an expert witness to refute the government’s allegations. Sometimes, someone in the medical field will testify as to the injuries, or ailments, or conditions of the defendant that would cause these alleged signs and symptoms of impairment when, in fact, those signs and symptoms are not of impairment but of something else like a medical condition or disability. If the police officers did not follow the correct procedures, there might be an expert witness they will put on for that purpose. An attorney is always looking for the areas of weakness in the government’s case, so they can present evidence in a DC DUI trial that shows why the government is unable to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.