DUI Jury Trial and Defendant Testimony

DUI defense attorneys in Los Angeles will disagree on the question of whether it is a good idea to call the defendant as a witness at trial. Most DUI trial lawyers will have horror stories of how they lost cases because of the defendants poor testimony and most criminal defense attorneys take the view that the defendant should only testify if absolutely necessary.

The starting point is that the burden of proof is on the prosecution. The defendant does not have to testify and the jury is instructed not to hold this against him. Exposing the defendant to cross examination can be very damaging.

However, in my experience, Jurors expect innocent clients to tell their story and believe that they are hiding something if they don't.

This is a very difficult judgement call. Some defendants insist on testifying and have the right to reject counsels advice on this point. Some drunk driving defenses require testimony from the defendant, such as medical defenses or where the clients testimony is the only source of information upon which to found a defense. For example, somebody else drove or the defendant claims he drank after driving. Sometimes, the defendants testimony can evoke sympathy from a jury.

Each drunk driving case should be evaluated on its own merits and decisions should be made with the defendant's full understanding and cooperation.


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