Can Proof of DUI Impairment Be Based Upon Bad Judgment?
February 27, 2013

In many DUI cases, the prosecution will attempt to prove intoxication only by evidence of the defendant’s bad judgment while driving. An expert witness for the prosecution may testify that even small amounts of alcohol combined with a narcotic can impair good judgment. There is some debate about whether there needs to be evidence that the defendant was actually unable to drive safely due to intoxication.

In 1994, two Court of Appeal opinions began a trend toward affirming DUI convictions where driving impairment was proved solely by evidence of bad or impaired judgment affecting the way the defendant drove. No showing was made that the defendant was not capable of driving the car safely, only that he chose not to do so. Though both cases also involved evidence of alcohol impairment, their reliance on evidence of bad judgment as the sole proof of impairment is highly relevant to cases charging drug-based drunk driving.

In the first case, People v. Gallardo (1994) 22 Cal.App.4th 489, the court held that evidence of impaired judgment supported the jury’s finding of intoxication based upon a 0.03% BAC test result. The defendant drove extremely recklessly and several people were killed. Though the defendant admitted he felt a bit dizzy, that was not the focus of the decision. In fact, it was barely mentioned. In the second case, People v. Andersen (1994) 26 Cal.App.4th 1241, convictions for Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated were upheld on the basis that intoxication was due to the combined influence of a low BAC (0.022%) and methamphetamine.

There are many factors that determine the outcome of a criminal case. Having a highly skilled DUI Defense attorney is vital in making sure you get the best possible result in your case. The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been helping those charged with a DUI for over 30 years. You can call us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245. We will be there when you call.

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