Drunk driving is a common crime in the United States, and law enforcement agencies will look for signs of drunk driving every time a driver is pulled over. Unfortunately, there are a number of myths and misconceptions that circulate about drunk driving. Here are five common misconceptions about drunk driving.
1) Drunk driving is not a big deal
In the past, this myth was true; drunk driving was considered a minor offense, and law enforcement agents would often allow drivers to continue home after receiving a ticket or warning. Activists armed with statistics, however, succeeding in making penalties for drunk drivers far harsher in the 1980s. Today, drunk driving often results in probation, jail time and suspended licenses.
2) The burden of proof is just like other criminal cases
In some situations, drunk driving can be difficult to defend against. Juries often do not hold prosecutors to the same burden of proof as they do in other criminal cases. As a result, convictions can be justified merely by a law enforcement agent claiming that he or she smelled alcohol and on vague claims such as the driver walking strangely.
3) Defending a drunk driving case is easy for a lawyer
People often hear stories about how someone beat a drunk driving charge. Questions about the reliability of machines are common, and many people have heard stories of drivers who left shortly after drinking but before the alcohol entered their bloodstreams. Launching a successful defense, however, requires more precision than these stories imply. An experienced lawyer will know the right way to present these defenses.
4) The accused are always guilty
People often believe that it takes a considerable amount of evidence to bring criminal charges. For DUI cases, however, the burden required to bring charges is especially low. Prosecutors use the public’s belief that those who are accused are almost certainly guilty to support convictions when there is not sufficient evidence.
5) It is impossible to beat a DUI charge
Those who face charges of driving while drunk or drug crimes often feel that they will be found guilty regardless of the evidence. While juries are difficult to predict and DUI charges are more difficult than other crimes, there is still hope for being found not guilty in many cases. With a competent attorney, defendants can launch compelling defenses that show the prosecution has not met the necessary burden of proof. Those who have been accused should discuss options with attorneys who have experience dealing with DUI charges.
Jennie is a long time San Diego criminal attorney. Away from the office she unwinds by baking pies, doing crossword puzzles and spending time with her three beloved teenage daughters.