Does Reasonable Doubt Apply to DWI Cases?

Reasonable doubt is as much a part of the criminal justice system as police or defense attorneys. Those words are the primary reason that many of the people accused of committing a crime will take their case to a jury and make the state prove their case, beyond a reasonable doubt. But what does it mean, and more importantly does it apply to cases involving DWI?

For the first question, while there is a definition for what beyond a reasonable doubt means, everyone in the criminal justice system struggles with what it exactly means. In a nutshell, beyond a reasonable doubt has two parts to it.

The first part is that every crime in the state of Texas has elements to it which makes conduct illegal. To prove a DWI case, for example, the prosecution must show several elements:

  • That a person was operating a vehicle;
  • That the person was under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • That the influence impaired their ability to operate the vehicle.

Those are the key elements of a DWI charge, and just as with any other crime, each element must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt to attain a conviction. It is not enough to prove one or two of the elements of a crime, but each and every element must be proved.

The Test of Reasonable Doubt

The second part is the complicated more complicated than the first. The standard of reasonable doubt means whether after a prosecutor has presented her evidence, whether a reasonable person has some doubt about some element of the crime. For example, in a DWI case a prosecutor shows in her case that the person accused had some drinks, and the police testified to smelling alcohol when they pulled the person over. But if that is the only evidence shown, would it raise reasonable doubt as to whether a person was actually impaired?

In this example, there is reasonable doubt. While the prosecution did present evidence of drinking, there was little to no evidence of impaired driving. There was no blood alcohol level proved, there was no evidence of slurred speech, erratic driving, or other indicators that the person was actually impaired by drinking. Many times that is what a case will come down to; the lack of evidence.

Defending Your Case Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Every case is different. Each charge has its own individual set of facts that an attorney and his client must go over and decide whether the case should go to trial to make the prosecution prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt, or settle it in a plea agreement. The key to a good attorney is knowing when a jury or judge would see reasonable doubt in a case, and that good attorney then knows when to advise a client to go to trial.

At the Wilder DWI Defense Firm, our practice is dedicated to the defense of those charged with DWI in the Dallas area. If you have been charged with DWI, contact us. We will go over your case with you, help you understand what your best options are, and give your case the experience it deserves.