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Elements of a Los Angeles DUI Case

When you have been arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, it is important to understand that you have not yet been found guilty. You cannot be found guilty unless you enter a plea of guilty, or a jury finds you guilty. In order for a jury to find you guilty, they must find that you committee the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to do this, they must demonstrate that you are guilty of two elements:

  1. You were operating a vehicle; AND
  2. You were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

It is important to understand these two elements, and how they are applied towards a Los Angeles DUI. You must be found guilty of BOTH elements to be guilty of a Los Angeles DUI, not just one or the other. So you cannot just be found operating a vehicle, or solely under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. You must be both operating a vehicle AND under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

Both elements present their own set of difficulty in proving in Court. Combined together they provide an adequate idea of how difficult or simple a case may be. Let’s consider each element individually.

It is generally fairly simple to determine whether a person charged was operating a vehicle. They are generally driving the vehicle and pulled over by officers for a reasonable cause. This reasonable cause can be any valid reason that an officer may have for pulling a person over, such as running a red light, speeding or swerving. This element is usually proven by prosecutors without an issue. However, there may be circumstances in which there is difficulty in proving that a person was operating a vehicle.

When a person is found in their car, intoxicated, with the car parked to the side of the road or in a parking lot, Then it is a little bit more difficult to prove whether the person being charged was driving. In situations like that, the Court will look to evidence to determine whether a person was driving or not.

For example, if a person is pulled over the side of the road, keys in the ignition, and sitting in the driver’s seat, there may be an argument that the person was driving.  If the person is parked in a parking lot, keys in their pocket and sleeping in the back seat, then there may be a weaker case to argue that the person was driving.

The second element is proven through screening tests. If a person has been under the influence of alcohol, a simple breath test or blood test may demonstrate the amount of alcohol present in their blood system. However, drugs are more difficult to prove as it is hard to demonstrate exactly when the drugs were taken, how the effects manifested, and how long they would remain in the blood system.

Regardless of whether there was driving, or there was impairment, there are available defenses and arguments to make. A knowledgeable, and experienced Los Angeles DUI Attorney has the ability to effectively strategize and argue the case in your favor so as to reduce the charges and minimize the consequences.