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Building a Defense For a Second DUI Offense in DC

In Washington, DC a second offense DUI charge is a serious offense that carries enhanced penalties such as jail time and fines. As a result, it is imperative you put forth the strongest defense possible in order to minimize the harm of your charge as much as possible. With this in mind, the following is what you should know about building a defense for second DUI charges in DC and how it differs from defending a first DUI offense. To learn more call and schedule a consultation today with a DC DUI lawyer.

Elements Used to Build a Defense

Even though someone has been charged with second offense DUI, the elements of the crime that a prosecutor will need to prove are still exactly the same as they would be for a first offense. The D.C. City Council created a law in 2012 that establishes a rebuttable presumption of intoxication for people who have prior DUI convictions and on the current DUI refused to provide a sample of breath,

The law has been repeatedly challenged by defense attorneys as unconstitutional, on the grounds that it relieves the prosecutor of their obligation to prove a person guilty and places that burden on the defendant to prove himself innocent. As a result of these, it is very important to have a defense attorney who is aware of the constitutional issues that arise on second offense DUI, and who can challenge the constitutionality of any law that may place unconstitutional burdens upon a defendant who is facing a second offense DUI.

Evidence Presented in a Second DUI Case

Aside from that, the evidence that needs to be proven by the prosecutor is exactly the same; operation and impairment. As a result, a defense attorney will be looking to the same factors to challenge second offense DUIs that they would look to challenge for first offense DUIs. These can include:

  • If there were any weakness in the prosecutors’ ability to show that the suspect was operating the vehicle
  • If there was any evidence to weaken the prosecutor’s argument that actions on scene are consistent with impairment

For example, does the person have any medical conditions that would create signs or symptoms that would be similar to a person who is impaired by alcohol? Did the person recently face a concussion that could cause wooziness, slurred speech or short-term memory loss? And would those symptoms be similar to the symptoms a person may face if they were intoxicated; thereby causing understandable confusion on the part of officers as to what exactly caused those symptoms; was it intoxication or something else? These are all things that we would want to take a look at to challenge any evidence that a prosecutor may be presenting in a second offense DUI.

Difference Between Defending a First and Second DUI Case

The first difference is the rebuttal presumption that’s been established under D.C. law, which says that if you are facing a second offense DUI and have refused to give a sample of breath, blood, or urine for testing, then you are presumed guilty unless you can prove yourself innocent. This is not the same standard that is used if you refuse to give a sample of breath, blood, or urine in a first offense DUI, where the refusal can be used as evidence to suggest impairment, but you are not presumed impaired as a result of that refusal in the first offense.

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