What is the Difference for Burden of Proof in a Los Angeles Criminal DUI Case and a DMV Hearing?

The burden of proof in a criminal case refers to whether the government (Department of Motor Vehicles or the Prosecutor) or the driver has to prove the person being charged meets the standard required to be found guilty of the offense.

During a DUI case in front of the Criminal Judge, the Prosecution has the burden to prove that the driver is guilty of driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs beyond a reasonable doubt. What this means is that the government attorney must demonstrate to the court that there is enough evidence that demonstrates the person was guilty of a DUI beyond the doubt of a reasonable person. If there is any kind of doubt upon any part of the evidence, or the evidence as a whole, the burden has not been met. The person being charged has no obligation to prove that they were not intoxicated and driving. They have the right to defend themselves against accusations made or presented by the government, but do not have the burden of disproving intoxication while driving. If the government cannot present enough evidence as to alleviate any reasonable doubt, then they have not met their burden and the driver is not guilty of a DUI.

Assuming as an example, a person is being charged with a DUI in front of a criminal Judge. Prosecution presents a Blood Alcohol Reading and the officer’s statements as evidence. However, the officer has been cited several times previously for fabricating reports and there is a conflict between his story and the driver’s. There was a second car on scene that witnessed the whole event and corroborates the driver’s story causing further doubt on the officer’s report. Additionally, the blood alcohol machine records show that the machine has not been calibrated or sent for proper maintenance in a few years resulting in a margin of error on readings.sDue to the discrepancies in the officer’s report and the possible erroneous reading on the breathalyzer the prosecutor has not proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt. The accused driver has no obligation to show through evidence that he was not intoxicated, the case will be dismissed.

During a DMV hearing the burden is on the driver to demonstrate that they were not intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle. The DMV hearing officer does not have the obligation to show that the driver was intoxicated like the government does in a criminal case before the Judge. The officer must listen to the testimony of the driver and that will be entered as evidence against the claim of driving while intoxicated.

For example, during a Southern California DMV hearing, and officer enters the arrest report prepared by the arresting policeman that the driver showed signs of being under the influence of alcohol and was weaving in and out of lanes. Additionally, the driver made statements admitting that she had had several drinks of hard alcohol and decided to drive.sAlthough the driver will have the chance to testify with the help of her attorney before the DMV hearing officer, she will likely not be able to disprove the assumption that she was drinking and driving. In this cases, the burden that she was not intoxicated will not be met, and the DMV will suspend her license according to their laws.

The burden of proof will determine how the case should be argued, defended and presented. The proper evidence and testimony must be prepared according to whether the case is being heard by a criminal Judge or a DMV hearing officer. An experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer has handled these cases thousands of times and knows what the best argument will be based on the circumstances and who the case is being presented to.

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