When it comes to DUI law, there are two types of DUI defenses. The first type would be DUI defenses that sound nice on paper or in your lawyer’s office. These are great for legal debates or a nice scholarly article, but they won’t do you much good when it’s time for the jury to return a verdict. Even if the entire board of forensic toxicologists in Sweden agree that the breathalyzer your local police agency is using suffers from fundamental design flaws, you may have a hard time winning your case in front of 12 jurors that think the machine works just fine because “that guy in the uniform said it works just fine”. The second type of DUI defense is the one we are looking for around here and that would be DUI defenses that work. Day in and day out in trial courtrooms in California, what kind of defense are leading to not guilty verdicts?
In my experience as a California DUI attorney over the last 13 years, I have personally handled thousands of DUI cases. I have seen thousands more. As a trial lawyer, one of my favorite hobbies is to watch the closing arguments in a DUI jury trial. So anytime I’m in court to file a motion, enter a plea, pick up paperwork, whatever, if there is a DUI jury trial going on nearby, I am going to stop in and listen for DUI defenses that work. Without fail one of the most effective defense strategies in a California DUI case is the “No Drive” defense. When presenting a “no drive” defense to a DUI charge, we don’t go after the issue of intoxication. Remember, it’s not a crime to be over .08 in California. The crime involves DRIVING while being over .08. No drive defenses are often effective in situations where the police arrive after the driving took place. Perhaps the driver is apprehended in a parking lot, after an accident, or on foot.
The District Attorney will usually argue that the circumstantial evidence suggests that the person was driving the vehicle. How else did the car get there? Why are the keys in your pocket? Are you the registered owner? The law does allow a jury to return a guilty verdict in this situation, but they often do not. Juries want to hear proof. In fact, the law requires a finding of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. So when a jury is left with questions instead of evidence, the verdict is usually not guilty.