What are DUI presumptions?
In limited types of cases, juries are instructed on legal presumptions they should follow to determine the facts of a case. The most famous of these presumptions pop up in DUI cases. In Arizona, there are DUI presumptions that could protect or harm you at trial. They read:
G. In a trial, action or proceeding for a violation of this section or section 28-1383 other than a trial, action or proceeding involving driving or being in actual physical control of a commercial vehicle, the defendant’s alcohol concentration within two hours of the time of driving or being in actual physical control as shown by analysis of the defendant’s blood, breath or other bodily substance gives rise to the following presumptions:
1. If there was at that time 0.05 or less alcohol concentration in the defendant’s blood, breath or other bodily substance, it may be presumed that the defendant was not under the influence of intoxicating liquor.
2. If there was at that time in excess of 0.05 but less than 0.08 alcohol concentration in the defendant’s blood, breath or other bodily substance, that fact shall not give rise to a presumption that the defendant was or was not under the influence of intoxicating liquor, but that fact may be considered with other competent evidence in determining the guilt or innocence of the defendant.
3. If there was at that time 0.08 or more alcohol concentration in the defendant’s blood, breath or other bodily substance, it may be presumed that the defendant was under the influence of intoxicating liquor. 1
What are rebuttable Presumptions?
These are rebuttable presumptions. This means that the government or you can bring evidence to change the jury’s mind whether or not to accept or reject that presumption.
- In the first DUI presumption, the jury is allowed to presume that you were impaired if they believe that your BAC was over .08, at least to the slightest degree. This is a dangerous presumption because it doesn’t take into account the many issues that arise with the .08 standard. Nevertheless, the jury will be instructed that they may presume impairment.
- In the second DUI presumption, between .05 and .079, there is no presumption at all and the jury must decide the issue of impairment based solely on the evidence presented to them. This is a neutral presumption that neither hurts nor helps you.
- In the third DUI presumption, anything under .05 is presumed to not be under the influence. This is a powerful benefit to you.
With these presumptions, you can see that the law takes into account that there may be DUI prosecutions where the BAC is under the .08 standard. If you’re charged with a DUI and even if you are over the .08 presumption, it’s important to contact a skilled DUI attorney. These presumptions are not set in stone and it’s important that you hire an attorney that understands the nuances of DUI law. These presumptions are a tool that a skillful lawyer can use to prove your innocence or drastically mitigate the damage of a DUI.