Do Most People Understand What A DUI Trial Consists Of?
Most people have a decent idea of what a DUI trial consists of. The biggest thing that I would say that clients have a misconception of is the facts on the night of the DUI. Let’s go in with the assumption that the majority of people who come into my office were drinking and were charged with DUI. Clients come on into my office and say, “I’ve never made a statement to the cop, I did great on the field sobriety tests, and I wasn’t staggering at all”. Nowadays, just about all the DUIs here in Lake County, Illinois are videotaped and have accompanying audio.
I not only see what’s happening the majority of times but I also hear what’s happening. With current technology, we’re dealing with high definition cameras, and accurate and sensitive microphones. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me that they did great on the field sobriety tests, and when we plug it into the big screen TV and take a look at the DVD, that turns out to not be the case. It does happen that a video will show that a client aced a field sobriety test, but that doesn’t happen often. But usually their recollection of the events of that night is a complete contrast to what I get from the evidence that’s provided for me.
It used to be, years ago, that there really weren’t any videos, so it was really the officer’s word versus my client’s word. But now, once you have the video and audio aspects of these cases, it pretty much gives you a neutral viewpoint. We’ve all heard that saying, “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” When you’re dealing with a DUI, and how the client is doing on the field sobriety tests in particular, this is very true. More often than not you can conclusively get an opinion one way or another based on the officer asking you to do a series of field sobriety tests and what you observe. Clients watch enough TV to know that if they do a trial by judge, the judge decides whether he’s guilty or innocent beyond a reasonable doubt. If they do a trial by jury, the jury understands and they understand that the officer is going to come in and testify. If there is a video, the video is going to be shown, and they will have the opportunity to get on the stand if they elect to, and give their version of the events.
Can You Walk Me Through A Brief Timeline Of a DUI Trial In Illinois?
The first part of a DUI trial is opening statements, where the prosecutor’s going to get up there and tell the judge or jury all of the reasons why they believe that the evidence is going to show that my client is guilty. Then, I get up and I give all the reasons on why I feel the state will not meet their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and why my client was not under the influence of alcohol. Then after the opening statement, the evidence begins. Because the state has the burden, they present all their evidence first and more often than not, on a DUI case, you’re just going to see the arresting officer getting up there and testifying.
They are going to show the video of the stop, of the field sobriety tests, and the video in the booking room, after my client was placed under arrest. In the booking room, they’ll ask my client questions after they Mirandize him and tell him he has a right to remain silent, and they’re also going to ask him to blow into the Breathalyzer. If it’s the same officer who arrested him, and had him blow into the Breathalyzer, there’s certain paperwork that he needs to fill out and certain logbooks he needs to detail and fill out also.
He can testify as to what the breath test results are. After the officer testifies, the state closes their side of the trial, and I have the ability at that point in time to make a motion in front of the judge to dismiss the charges because the state has not reached their burden of proof. If the judge says that the state has met their burden, then the whole case shifts to my defense.
I then put my client on the stand, and he will testify as to what he was drinking earlier that night, if he was drinking at all. We talk about the fact that he wasn’t under the influence of alcohol at the time he got pulled over. We’ll explain away how we did on a field sobriety test, that my client has a bum knee from a high school football injury or that my client was working all night, and that’s why they didn’t do particularly well. If he elects not to testify, the fact could not be used against them in determining whether or not my client is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
After I have my client testify, I’m done with all my evidence. At that point in time, if there is no more evidence to be, each side gives closing statements. The prosecutor starts off and says all the reasons why they should believe my client is guilty based on the facts that were presented in front of them at the immediate proceeding. Next, I say all the reasons why the state has not met their burden. At the end is the Rebuttal, where the prosecutor has the last word because they have the burden of proof, and they can attack my closing statement and once again, reiterate why he believes that my person is guilty to the charge of DUI.
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