Circumstantial Evidence in DUI Cases

Circumstantial Evidence in DUI CasesIf you committed a crime that’s devoid of any direct evidence, can you still be charged? Let’s say you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence. To be convicted of the crime, there must be evidence to prove it, such as a blood alcohol test or witnesses seeing you drive erratically. But without any such direct verification, can you still be convicted? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.

In some DUI cases, direct evidence may not be available, in which case the prosecution must be able to show through circumstantial evidence that the defendant is guilty. This type of testimony consists of facts that don’t actually prove the crime but can be used to infer that a crime occurred. When enough circumstantial evidence is present, you can be convicted. Understanding every way in which the prosecution can prove your DUI case will be instrumental if you wish to evade the charge. We’ve broken down everything you need to know.

What’s the Difference Between Direct and Circumstantial Evidence in DUI Cases?

Evidence at a trial or a hearing can include witness testimony, documents, photos, videos, exhibits, and any facts that the lawyers have agreed is true. But understanding the two basic types of evidence—direct and circumstantial—is vital.

Direct evidence establishes a fact without the need to make an inference in order to connect the evidence to the fact. Direct evidence can be a witness testifying about their direct recollection of events including what they saw, what they heard, or anything they observed with their senses. Direct evidence in a DUI case might be an officer seeing you swerve your car or a test result showing your BAC to be above 0.08 percent.

Circumstantial evidence, on the other hand, requires that a judge and jury make an indirect judgment, or inference, about what happened. The facts, while innocent at face value, may imply some other relevant detail. In a DUI case, circumstantial evidence may include the presence of open alcohol containers in the car, the types of bruises on the defendant, the warmth of the vehicle’s hood, or any damages to the car.

While a single piece of circumstantial evidence may not be enough to demonstrate a person’s guilt, multiple pieces of evidence may be used together, and the prosecutor may ask the jury to connect the dots to determine that the defendant committed the alleged offense.

How Can Circumstantial Evidence Be Used to Prove a DUI?

When defending a DUI case, it may be possible to attack a prosecutor’s reliance on circumstantial evidence, especially where the evidence is weak. It’s important that you and your attorney discuss the types of circumstantial evidence that may be used against you to infer that you were driving under the influence. Here are a few examples:

  • Use of circumstantial evidence to prove that you were driving: In a DUI case, one of the elements that the prosecution must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that the defendant was driving the motor vehicle in question. Without direct evidence to do so, the prosecution will try to use circumstantial evidence. For example, in the case of a collision, the prosecution may consider the location of bruises on the defendant, the placement of the driver’s seat, or any damage to the vehicle to prove that the defendant was in the driver’s seat when a collision occurred.
  • Use of circumstantial evidence to prove impairment: If a BAC test was not taken—or taken improperly—circumstantial evidence is required. In this case, field sobriety tests are often introduced. The defendant stumbling and falling over during their field sobriety test strongly implies guilt, though it doesn’t directly prove that they were under the influence.

Other examples of circumstantial evidence in DUI cases include the defendant’s driving conduct and the officer’s observations of the defendant’s physical condition. If this kind of evidence is brought up in court, the defense can counter this evidence and show that the defendant’s poor performance or objective symptoms of intoxication may have been caused by a health condition or other factors unrelated to impaired driving. An expert DUI defense lawyer will be able to properly protect you against these allegations.

Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer at The Umansky Law Firm

If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, it’s important to understand that even if the prosecutor or DMV doesn’t have any direct evidence against you, they can rely on circumstantial evidence to prove that you drove while under the influence. That’s why it’s so important that you consider contacting the trusted professionals at The Umansky Law Firm after your arrest. Our expert DUI attorneys will be able to help you consider all the evidence against you and formulate a concrete defense strategy. We have the knowledge, skills, and experience to help you define your goals and work toward the best possible result.

With over 100 years of combined legal experience, our team has the time and expertise to launch an investigation into your case and the circumstances leading up to your arrest. We’ll work tirelessly to fight for your rights. Give us a call at (407) 228-3838 or complete our online contact form to receive a free consultation.