Probable Cause vs. Reasonable Doubt: Getting Acquitted for DUI and DWAI
Fife Luneau, P.C.
Being arrested for committing the crime of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while ability impaired (DWAI) can make anyone feel like the odds are stacked against them. However, it is the police and the prosecutor who have a lot of ground to cover to ensure a successful DUI or DWAI conviction. That is because a successful criminal conviction requires the prosecutor to demonstrate to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime in question.
The reasonable doubt standard is the highest evidentiary standard in the American justice system. That is because our laws were founded on the notion that the harm associated with convicting an innocent person of a crime is greater than the societal harm of letting a guilty person go free. Hence why being arrested for a crime does not necessarily mean a person will be convicted of a crime.
The evidence necessary to execute a lawful arrest isn’t anywhere close to being as strict as the evidence required to convict someone. A lawful arrest must be supported by probable cause. Probable cause exists when particular articulable facts would justify a reasonable person to believe that a crime has been committed. Thus, circumstantial evidence of a crime is usually good enough to effect a lawful arrest.
In fact, direct evidence that a person was under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving can be hard to come by. Take, for example, the case of the People v. N.S. In this case, a Jefferson County jury acquitted our client of DUI and DWAI despite allegations that they smelled like alcohol, had bloodshot or watery eyes, exhibited slurred speech, and displayed unsteady balance.
While these allegations were enough to lead a reasonable person to believe that our client committed a DUI, on their own they would be insufficient to convict someone of a DUI. Significantly, the prosecutor did not have the results of a valid chemical test available for the defendant’s trial.
Ultimately, the jury had reasonable doubts regarding the prosecution’s case against our client. The allegations used by the prosecution could reasonably be explained by circumstances unrelated to drinking and driving.
Dedicated Representation From Our Denver DUI Defense Attorneys
If you’ve been arrested and charged with a DUI and DWAI, you should retain the professional services of a Denver DUI defense attorney to develop a strong criminal defense strategy. At the office of Fife Luneau, P.C., we regularly assist Denver residents with issues involving DUI and DWAI charges. As licensed attorneys, we have sworn to protect the Colorado constitution and U.S. constitution. We take this duty seriously and are passionate about making sure your constitutionally guaranteed due process right to a fair criminal trial is not infringed by government overreach.
Contact Fife Luneau, P.C. online or contact us at (720) 408-7130 to arrange a consultation about your legal rights and options with an experienced DUI defense attorney today.