When charged with a felony DWI, the State must prove both impairment and proximate cause. So what does this term really mean?
Proximate Cause in Felony DWI
While every DUI starts the same, a felony DWI adds a new defense of proximate cause. In addition to usual defenses, we also address the cause of the accident. For example, we look at how the officer did the investigation and BAC level. But we also look at the accident facts as well. Because you are only guilty of a felony DWI is your impairment causes the accident. Otherwise, only a misdemeanor charge is proper. So what is proximate cause?
While law students focus on various definitions, it really is just commonsense. Either your impairment caused the accident and resulting injury or it did not. For example, running a red light and crashing in an intersection probably is proximate cause. However, sliding on ice probably is not. In addition, if another driver strikes your vehicle, any impairment would not be an issue. After all, you did not cause the accident, but you can still face a DWI. Even though this may not seem right, it is still better than the alternative. Rather than prison time, most folks prefer to pay a fine and get a limited driving privilege.
So What About Driving in Bad Weather
Whether it be hard rain or ice / snow, this is where the proximate cause issue gets a little harder. For example, if driving too fast for conditions and you lose control, is the impairment or bad weather to blame? As a legal matter, only lawyers are curious. On the other hand, juries are not sensitive to these distinctions. Instead, they will most likely convict you based on the emotions of seriously injured or killed victims. Moreover, innocent victims of drunk drivers are exactly why DUI laws are so harsh. So if you lose your proximate cause Motion, we do not recommend you take your chances at trial. Otherwise, even worse things can happen. Better know when to hold’em and when to fold’em.