Reasonable Doubt And Your DUI Charges

Posted on: 25 April 2023

Have you been charged with a DUI (driving under the influence) or a similar impaired driving offense? Then you need to aggressively defend yourself in order to prevent years of unwanted consequences from a conviction. 

A successful DUI defense begins with understanding what the prosecution must prove in order to convict you. This is the burden of proof, and it generally includes the notion that you must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. What does this really mean for you? And what does it not mean? Here are some answers to your questions. 

What Is the Burden of Proof?

The United States' justice system is based on the idea that defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty. This means that the burden is on prosecutors to prove to the jury that you are guilty of the charge, regardless of the arrest, public opinion, or personal biases. It is not the burden of the defendant to prove they were innocent. 

What Is Reasonable Doubt?

The key to most criminal cases is that the jury finds guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This term, or others like it, may be part of jury instructions. So, what is reasonable doubt? In general, this means that the jurors do not have an abiding conviction that the defendant is guilty. It's easy to see how these reflect a lack of conviction on the part of the jurors. Because of the serious nature of criminal trials, simply leaning toward the prosecutors' case is insufficient to convict. 

What Isn't Reasonable Doubt?

While "beyond a reasonable doubt" is a high hurdle to pass, it's also not impossible. The jury does not need to be convinced that no conceivable possibility exists that the defendant isn't guilty. 100% certainty is nearly impossible to achieve. But other possibilities must be so far-fetched as to not be reasonable to a layperson. 

How Can You Create Reasonable Doubt?

How does this burden of proof affect you? There are several ways to sow the seeds of reasonable doubt in a DUI case. Roadside sobriety tests can be faulty, officers may not follow procedures, traffic stops may not be lawful, and other factors can affect your performance during the stop. 

Any of these factors—individually or together—can introduce the all-important element of reasonable doubt. 

Where Can You Learn More?

As you can see, the bar for convicting a defendant is high. But the best way to prevent the prosecution from reaching it is to have a skilled DUI defense attorney on your team. Contact a local DUI lawyer to learn more.