In order to convict a defendant of a DUI crime, the state must prove each element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. As such, if the defense can demonstrate that a measure of doubt exists as to the defendant’s guilt, it should be able to obtain a verdict in its favor. This was demonstrated recently in a DUI case arising in New Hampshire in which a commercial truck driver was acquitted of manslaughter, negligent homicide, and other charges due to questions regarding the cause of the subject collision. While the ruling has no direct impact on Illinois law, it serves as a reminder that merely because a person is charged with a DUI crime does not mean that they will be convicted. If you live in Illinois and are charged with causing a DUI related accident or injury, it is smart to speak to an attorney to discuss what defenses you may be able to assert.
The New Hampshire Case
It is reported that a commercial truck driver who was involved in an accident that caused the death of seven motorcyclists was acquitted of all charges related to the accident. During the trial, the prosecution and defense offered conflicting reports of how the accident occurred; the prosecution argued that the truck driver was under the influence of heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl, was swerving all over the highway, and struck the motorcyclists.
Allegedly, the defense called the prosecution’s arguments into doubt, however, by offering evidence that the first motorcyclist was intoxicated and swerved in front of the truck driver, causing the collision. The defense also offered testimony from an accident reconstructionist who opined that the accident occurred because the motorcyclists crossed the center line. Ultimately, the jury found the defense’s arguments to be more compelling and acquitted the defendant.
Reasonable Doubt in Illinois DUI Cases
In Illinois, as in New Hampshire, a DUI defendant should not be convicted unless the state proves every element of the charged crime beyond a reasonable doubt. There is no precise definition for the beyond a reasonable doubt standard, but it is generally interpreted as meaning that the evidence must so strongly indicate the defendant’s guilt that when confronted with the evidence, a reasonable person could not come to any conclusion other than that defendant committed the charged offense. As such, if the defendant can demonstrate that the prosecution cannot meet its burden of proof as to one or more elements of the crime, they should not be convicted.
Talk to an Experienced Illinois DUI Attorney
While the burden of proof the prosecution bears in Illinois DUI cases is significant, defendants do not bear any burden of proof. If you are charged with a DUI offense, you should talk to an Illinois DUI attorney about your charges and what evidence the state may offer against you at trial. Attorney Theodore J. Harvatin of the Harvatin Law Offices, PC is an experienced Illinois DUI attorney who can advise you of your rights and help you to seek the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. Mr. Harvatin can be reached at 217.525.0520 or via our online form to set up a meeting to discuss your case.