The Vehicle as an Element of a California DUI / DWI

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The Vehicle as an Element of a California DUI / DWI

The criminal justice system requires the prosecutor to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt each and every element of the case. This means that the prosecutor has to go as far as making sure to prove the vehicle element by proving that the motorists was in fact driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Though this may seem simple, there remain some technicalities that an experienced DUI / DWI attorney can use to put additional pressure on the prosecution to prove even the vehicle element of the crime.

Proving the vehicle element of the crime requires a look at the California Vehicle Code which defines the term "vehicle" as "a device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved, or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks." This includes automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, scooters, and bulldozers. To the casual observer these elements may seem straight forward, but there are several nuances that an criminal defense lawyer understands. This understanding allows him or her to poke holes in any one of the elements. If the attorney can create reasonable doubt as to just one of the elements, then a jury will have to find you not guilty of the charges.

Bicycles, airplanes, and horses are not vehicles under California’s drinking and driving laws, but riding or operating them under the influence of alcohol is covered under separate statutes. These charges should all be taken seriously. They are specialized areas of law that each requires the expertise of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Remember that DUI / DWI cases are criminal offenses, and the prosecutor must prove the case to each and every one of the twelve jurors beyond a reasonable doubt. Remember too that evidence in criminal trials is taken extremely seriously. This means that there will be times when a prosecutor must actually show that a person was in fact driving a vehicle while drunk. If the prosecutor glosses over this fact, or neglects to present such evidence to the jury, the jury will be lacking a crucial element required for the conviction of the driver. Therefore, if for whatever reason, the prosecution is unable to prove the vehicle element, it will be the experienced and tactically proficient DUI / DWI attorney who will be able to take advantage of this failure on the behalf of the prosecutor and turn it into a victory for his or her client.

So, in addition to establishing that the motorist was driving under the influence, the prosecutor must also prove the fact that the accused was in fact driving a "vehicle." If it cannot be shown that a vehicle was driven, a DUI / DWI drunk driving case will not stand up in court. An experienced California drunk driving attorney can evaluate a DUI case to plan a strategy to create reasonable doubt in one or more elements of the offense.