Proving a DUI Charge at Trial

If you are facing charges of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Pennsylvania, you will need to decide whether to accept a plea offer or to instead take your case to trial. If you choose to go to trial, the prosecutor will have to prove the DUI charge against you beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be convicted of the offense. Every element of the DUI charge must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at your trial. The legal team at DiCindio Law can help you to evaluate your case to determine whether or not you should go to trial or if you should instead accept a plea offer.

What are the elements of a DUI in Pennsylvania?

Every crime in Pennsylvania is made up of a number of elements. These are the individual parts of an offense that a prosecutor must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt before a defendant can be found guilty at a trial. If the prosecutor is unable to prove one of the elements of your DUI offense beyond a reasonable doubt, you should be found not guilty even if the prosecutor is able to prove the other elements. To prove that you committed a DUI, the prosecutor will need to prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You are the person who was charged;
  • The offense happened on a specific date and time and in a specific location;
  • You drove, operated, or had actual physical control of the vehicle’s movement
  • You had consumed alcohol; and
  • The alcohol that you consumed was to the extent that your driving was impaired.

If you submitted to a Breathalyzer test, you may be charged with a DUI if your blood alcohol content was 0.08% or higher. You may be charged with higher levels of DUI offenses if your BAC fell into the range of 0.10% to 0.15% or was 0.16% or higher.

Driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of a vehicle

While a majority of DUIs involve driving a car or other vehicle, it is possible for you to be charged with a DUI even if your vehicle was not actually moving. If you were charged with drunk driving when your vehicle was not actually moving, the court or jury will consider multiple factors when determining whether you were operating or in actual physical control of your car, including the following:

  • Your car’s location
  • Whether the engine was running
  • Your location in the car
  • Whether you had your keys in your possession
  • Whether your car was legally parked
  • Whether you were asleep or awake
  • Whether your vehicle’s lights were off or on

In cases in which the defendant was not actually seen driving the car, the jury or judge will consider these and other factors that might indicate whether you were in actual physical control of your vehicle or had been operating it. For example, if you went to your car and fell asleep in it after visiting a bar without driving it home, it is possible that you might still be charged with a DUI. Whether you will be convicted of the offense will depend on the jury’s or judge’s analysis of the factors.

You had consumed alcohol

The prosecutor can prove that you consumed alcohol when there is no BAC test by introducing other evidence. In many cases, this may include the testimony of the officer who stopped you. The officer may testify about your performance on any roadside tests, whether you had reddened eyes, whether you slurred your speech, and about other observations that he or she made about you.

If you did submit to a BAC test, the prosecutor may use your results to try to prove that you had consumed alcohol.

Impaired or intoxicated by alcohol

To prove that you were impaired or intoxicated by the alcohol that you consumed, the prosecutor can show that your blood alcohol concentration was at or above 0.08%. He or she may also prove this element by proving that you were impaired through other types of testimony.

A prosecutor file a charge for DUI per se as well as a charge for driving while impaired against you when your BAC was 0.08% or higher. Prosecutors do this because they hope that at least one of the charges will be successful. If your BAC was above the legal limit, the prosecutor may find that proving a DUI per se charge against you is easier than proving that you were actually impaired.

Why you should get help from DiCindio Law

A DUI conviction can have serious consequences for your life. In addition to the potential criminal penalties, a DUI conviction may cause collateral consequences that can continue to negatively impact you long after you have completed your sentence. Getting help from an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you to weigh your options and to determine whether you should go to trial or should accept a plea offer. To learn more about your case, contact DiCindio Law to schedule a consultation.


DISCLAIMER
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale