Jury instructions in DWI cases are the directions given to the jury in the case by the court. Jury instructions are directions about the law in the case. In a typical DWI case, the judge will give the jury instructions by discussing the principles of law applicable in the case which the jury must apply in order to reach a verdict based on the facts of the particular case. There are several types of jury instructions. Binding instructions are those where the jury is told that if it finds certain conditions to be true, it is to find for the plaintiff or defendant, as the case may be. A formula instruction is an instruction which gives a complete statement of the law on which the jury may base its verdict and contains all the conditions which are necessary to reach such a verdict. The general purpose of giving instructions to the jury is to make sure the jury is not misled and to focus the jury’s attention on the specific issues that are to be determined in the case. Jury instructions also act as a guide to the jury that assists it in reaching a verdict.
Proposed Jury Instructions in DWI cases A DWI defense attorney may offer proposed jury instructions under New York Criminal Procedure Law § 300.10. This section sets forth the method for giving jury instructions by the court as well as the method for the timely rendering of proposed jury instructions by the attorneys in the case. In a DWI case, the jury will be instructed on the meaning of certain key phrases, such as “while intoxicated,” or “while impaired.”
The jury in a DWI case will also be instructed on the presumptions of guilt applied to chemical evidence and on what constitutes guilt under the New York per se DWI statute. A DWI defense attorney may propose jury instructions on the issue of chemical tests. The attorney may propose instructions about chemical tests based on the circumstances of the case that might involve improperly issued arrest warrants, improperly administered chemical DWI tests, violations of the defendant’s administrative rights and the failure to properly administer one or more of the standardized field sobriety tests. Proposed jury instructions by a DWI defense attorney based on any of these improper procedures might call for dismissal or submission of the evidence involved.
A DWI defense attorney might propose a jury instruction on a lesser included offense. A lesser included offense, such as Driving While Ability Impaired, is one that lacks one or more of the elements of a higher crime, such as DWI. In deciding whether to propose a jury instruction on a lesser included offense, a DWI defense attorney might consider whether or not guilt in the DWI crime necessarily requires the commission of certain elements that by themselves amount to the lesser offense. If so, a judge might instruct the jury to consider sentencing the DWI defendant to the lesser included offense.
The attorney may propose instructions regarding the definition of “driving while intoxicated.” A proposed jury instruction by a DWI defense attorney may emphasize that the degree of “impairment” or “intoxication” necessary to prove a case of DWI is one which is substantial and affects both the defendant’s physical and mental capabilities. The proposed jury instruction may inform the jury that they have to find this high level of “impairment” in the DWI defendant’s conduct in order to convict them of DWI.
On top of that, a DWI defense attorney may propose a jury instruction about each element that must be proven in a DWI case. These proposed instructions might state that the defendant should be acquitted unless the prosecution in the case proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was (1) actually driving (2) on a road or highway (3) while intoxicated. Since New York has a per se DWI statute (N.Y. Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192.2), a DWI Defense attorney may propose a jury instruction that states that the prosecution in the case must prove that the defendant had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more at the time of driving, and that the jury may not infer from a blood alcohol reading one hour or more after driving that the same BAC existed at the time of driving.
The attorneys at the law firm of Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are experienced in handling DWI cases. If you need a lawyer who can help you obtain the best possible outcome in your DWI case, call the law firm of Nave DWI Defense Attorneys.
The exclusive purpose of this article is educational and it is not intended as either legal advice or a general solution to any specific legal problem. Corporate offices for Nave DWI Defense Attorneys are located at 269 W. Jefferson St.; Syracuse, New York 13202; Telephone No.: (315) 473-0899. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Attorney Advertising.