People generally assume that prosecutors bring drunk driving charges based on some amount of evidence. Whether that evidence is valid or sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt is a matter for a court to decide, and every defendant has a right to challenge the prosecution’s evidence. After all, police and prosecutors do make mistakes, and no one should be penalized with fines or jail time based on false allegations.
This question of the validity of DUI evidence comes up after a recent arrest in Murfreesboro. A 37-year-old man allegedly drove his car onto a local disc golf course, and police later found him sitting next to his vehicle. He was arrested and charged with several offenses, including disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment and public intoxication — but, according to a news report, not DUI.
While witnesses reported seeing man driving on the disc golf course, there could be a few reasons why he wasn’t (at least initially) charged with drunk driving. There have been similar situations in which police arrived on a scene to find a person who is believed to be intoxicated and standing or sitting beside a vehicle. Police may understand that the person was at one point driving the vehicle, but there may be a lack of material evidence proving as much.
Time may be another factor. Breath and blood tests can be rendered invalid in DUI cases if too much time passed between the alleged offense and the administration of the test. Police may not know how long a person has been standing or sitting near a vehicle if an officer didn’t conduct a traffic stop based on probable cause.
The point here is that the burden of proof lies on the prosecution, and a strong DUI defense will explore the available options for achieving a favorable outcome for the defendant. The stakes in DUI cases are high, and accused individuals need to be aware of their rights.
Source: DNJ.com, “Man arrested after reportedly driving drunk through disc golf course,” July 7, 2014