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Understanding the Elements of a Drunk Driving Charge

Being accused of drunk driving is a serious situation for residents in Iowa and elsewhere. Whether it is the driver's first charge or not, it is important to not only understand how the charge could impact them but also the circumstances that led to the DUI charge. Understanding the elements of a drunk driving charge assists defendants with a defense strategy, helping them reduce or even dismiss the charges against them.

With regards to DUI elements, the driving element is required in most states. This means that the accused must have been driving in order to be convicted of a DUI. Other states use the term operating, which implies that the accused was in actual control of the vehicle. In order to determine if an alleged driver was in fact driving, certain factors will be considered. This includes the location of the vehicle, driver, keys and the operability of the vehicle.

In most states, the presumption of drunk driving is proven through the blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, of the driver. Per se drunk driving presumes that even if the driver is still able to drive safely, if his or her BAC is 0.08 or higher, then they are determined to be drunk driving.

In order to establish that a driver was under the influence, police officers will prove this element by collecting testimony regarding the unusual driving of the driver, the driver's conduct or physical appearance, the driver's performance during a field sobriety test, video images taken at the scene or an incriminating statement made by the driver.

When a driver is charged with a DUI, he or she could consider the above elements when developing a defense strategy. If a defendant is able to suppress evidence or disprove any necessary DUI elements, he or she could have the charges against them reduced or discharged.

No matter the evidence collected against a defendant, it is important that defendants understand that they are entitled to a criminal defense. Taking steps to make a defense not only ensures that their rights are protected, but it could help the accused avoid serious penalties.

Source: Dui.findlaw.com, "Elements of a DUI Offense," accessed Jan. 11, 2016

Categories
  • The Iowa State Bar Association
  • DUI Defense Law
  • NACDL
  • AAJ
  • Iowa Association of Justice

Keegan, Tindal, & Mason 

Put Over 50 Years of Combined Trial Experience On Your Side 
  • J. Dean Keegan
  • Eric D. Tindal
  • Andrea D. Mason
  • J. Dean Keegan J. Dean Keegan

    Owner

    Decades of Award-Winning Legal Service J. Dean Keegan was born and raised in Waterloo, Iowa. After high school, Dean served ...
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  • Eric D. Tindal Eric D. Tindal

    Attorney

    Highly Rated Criminal Defense in Iowa City Eric D. Tindal, attorney at Keegan, Tindal & Mason, graduated from the University ...
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  • Andrea D. Mason Andrea D. Mason

    Attorney

    Experienced Criminal Defense in Iowa City Andrea D. Mason practices in the areas of white collar criminal defense, government ...
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See What Our Clients Have to say

  • He was professional, knowledgeable and prompt. He was very effective in his communication.

    “He showed genuine concern with my matters. He described a plan of action. His information and demeanor were very reassuring. After the Hire: He was professional, knowledgeable and prompt. He was very ...”

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  • I am glad he was there to get my head out of the guillotine when I needed him and keep my record clean.

    “I was stopped for an OWI. Dean took things as far as he could with the appeals process, finding every way possible to keep me driving in the meantime (which I needed to do for my job). Dean argued the ...”

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SUCCESSFUL results for our clients

Protecting Your Freedom & Rights
  • Operating While Intoxicated Record Expunged

    Johnson OWCR106890. Attorney Dean Keegan's client received an Operating While Intoxicated, a serious misdemeanor. After reviewing the videos, Mr. Keegan filed a Motion to Suppress arguing the officer denied his client's right to make a phone call. The State declined to present testimony at the hearing and the Motion to Suppress was granted, making the client eligible for a deferred judgment. Mr. Keegan's client will have her record expunged and be able to obtain a license after 90 days instead of 180.

  • Drug Charge Charge Dismissed

    Johnson County No. OWCR039210, Iowa City, Iowa. Attorney J. Dean Keegan conducted a three-day long suppression hearing which presented the first challenge to the "Drug Recognition Protocols" used in Iowa.

  • Embezzlement No Criminal Charges Filed

    Cedar Rapids, Linn County, Iowa. An employee of a Cedar Rapids business accused of embezzling six million dollars was not charged criminally after the County Attorney agreed to abide by an agreement negotiated by Attorneys J. Dean Keegan and Jerald Kinnamon in which the accused would pay two million dollars to the company.

  • Vehicular Homicide Charge Dismissed

    Johnson County No. FECR058630- Iowa City, Iowa. Attorneys J. Dean Keegan and Jerald W. Kinnamon successfully challenged the withdrawal of blood from a Defendant without his permission after a rollover accident in which a passenger in the vehicle was killed.

  • Vehicular Homicide Charge Dismissed

    Muscatine County No. FECR03718 - Muscatine, Iowa. If convicted of the vehicular homicide while intoxicated, as alleged in this case, the Defendant would have faced the possibility of a 25-year prison sentence, 17 years of which would have to be served before he would be eligible for parole. Following the depositions of the investigating officer and consultation with an accident reconstruction expert, Attorneys J. Dean Keegan and Jerry Kinnamon negotiated the dismissal of Vehicular Homicide as part of a plea

  • OWI Charge Dismissed

    Johnson County No. OWCR083001 - Iowa City, Iowa. Attorney J. Dean Keegan alleged that the Defendant's rights to contact a lawyer or family member may have been violated after his arrest. He requested video of the breath test from the arresting officer to support his allegation. When the officer failed to produce the video evidence in response written requests, a subpoena, and a Motion to Compel, the State conceded the issue and dismissed the offense.

  • OWI Acquittal at Jury Trial

    Johnson County No. OWCR077717- Iowa City, Iowa. Acquittal at jury trial of a defendant accused of Operating While Intoxicated who refused a breath alcohol test. Tried by Attorney J, Dean Keegan.

  • OWI Case Overturned

    State v. Hornik, Segura, et. al.Iowa City, Johnson County, Iowa. When the state of Iowa established that the Datamaster breath testing machine could be used to test subjects being investigated for OWI, it failed to establish a protocol for its proper use. Attorney J. Dean Keegan, in conjunction with the Johnson County Public Defender's Office, mounted a challenge to the use of the machine based on the lack of uniform instructions for its operation.

  • Zero Tolerance Driver's License Revocation Zero Tolerance Driver's License Revocation Overt

    Iowa Dept. of Inspection and Appeals Docket No. 08DOTOW3937. Attorney J. Dean Keegan successfully challenged a "Zero Tolerance" license revocation on the basis that the officer had failed to allow the driver to contact a family member or attorney for legal advice before submitting to the test.

  • OWI 2nd Offense Charge Dismissed

    Muscatine County No. OWCR040280 - Muscatine, Iowa. After Attorney Dean Keegan scheduled the deposition of the State's expert witness in this case, he learned that the breath test was inappropriately administered by the arresting officer. The State dismissed the offense outright and agreed that the breath test result should be inadmissible so the Defendant would not face the proposed one-year administrative revocation of her driver's license.

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