I am recently involved in a contentious case dealing with the legal issues involved with a prosecution of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated causing death.The issues presented are not uncommon in the state of Indiana and are critically important to the legal defense of one being so prosecuted.
Many lawyers have often asked whether Indiana dui law presumes that if one is proven to have operated a motor vehicle while in a state of intoxication that one can infer guilt as to being the cause of subsequent accident and/or injury.
This issue of “causation” is an essential legal element for one being defended. If such a case is to be decided by a jury, the defense lawyer trying the case must know the legal issues of “proximate cause” to find guilt within Indiana. Only with this knowledge can the lawyer attempt to educate the jury (as well as some prosecutors) through the tendering of jury instructions for they to review when engaged within jury deliberations.
The experienced Indiana dui lawyer is able to put forth proposed jury instructions for a judge’s consideration that specifically inform the jury that driving while intoxicated does not equate to guilt as to the proximate cause of an accident and/or injury when one driver has been determined to be intoxicated. Until recently, due to the vagueness in the law, many a defendant may have been wrongfully presumed to have been found guilty for such an offense based wholly on an inference that intoxication equals causation.
In the specific case in question, I have, in effect, needed to correct the misinformed assessment of the assigned prosecutor as to Indiana law pertaining to such culpability. Recent Indiana appellate court rulings have more relevantly defined that a Defendant cannot be found guilty for the offense of operating a motor vehicle causing serious bodily injury/death without a determination that the offending driver’s intoxication was the “proximate cause” of the victim’s injuries.
Through case investigation and independent witness statements, it has become clear that although testing above the legal limit of .08, sufficient probable cause could not establish that my client was the proximate cause of the accident and death within the cited prosecution presently being defended. This recognition that one can never infer causation despite a driver’s level of intoxication will shield my client from a potential maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.