Teaching Attorneys How to Handle Their First DUI Case: The DUI Trial Experience

Theory of Defense in South Florida DUI Trials

Your theory of defense is the underlying theme that forms the foundation of the DUI trial. It guides all of your strategy decisions from motion practice through closing argument.

  • Simplifies complex issues of DUI law for the jury
  • Narrows the jury's focus on pro-defense points
  • Expands the possibilities for arguing reasonable doubt

Tips for Optimizing a Theory of Defense in South Florida DUI Trials

  1. Refine the statement until it is one sentence long (or a maximum of two sentences)
  2. Practice the theme with colleagues, friends, and family
  3. Repeat the theme throughout your trial so that it is at the front of jurors' minds as they deliberate

Motions in Limine in South Florida DUI Trials

It is said that the best defense is a good offense. Therefore, a Motion in Limine in a DUI trial is useful as it sets the ground rules for the trial in your favor, limits the State's case, and suppresses harmful evidence as much as possible.

  • Motions in Limine should be filed to prevent the introduction of any improper evidence
  • Motions in Limine should not be generic nor simply repeat the basic evidence code and rules of procedure
  • Motions in Limine should be filed in a timely fashion in order to establish credibility with the judge and to attack the state's case before the trial even begins

Jury Selection in South Florida DUI Trials

The process of selecting a jury for a DUI trial is one of the most important parts of the trial but it is also one of the most unpredictable parts. This is the first time jurors will be hearing from you and it is your first opportunity to begin planting the seeds of your theory of defense.

Steps to Prepare for Jury Selection in South Florida DUI Trials

  1. Determine a profile for your target juror based on your theory of defense
  2. Determine who you do not want on the jury with appropriate reasoning
  3. Prepare your questions and use them strategically in order to minimize any wasted time
  4. Evaluate how you can create a tone that is both endearing and trustworthy to the prospective juror

Cross-Examination in South Florida DUI Trials

Cross-examinations are one of the strongest keys to winning a DUI trial. This process requires extensive preparation. In-depth preparation for a cross-examination can increase the amount of control you have and boost your confidence in the situation.

Fundamentals of Cross-Examinations for DUI Trials

  • All questions should be prepared to ensure a certain answer
  • All questions should be asked purposefully with a goal in mind
  • All answers should be geared towards progressing your theory of defense

Judgment of Acquittal (JOA) in South Florida DUI Trials

The purpose of a "motion for judgment of acquittal" is to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence in the trial.

When a JOA can be raised in a DUI Trial

  1. At the close of the state's evidence
  2. At the close of all evidence
  3. After the trial within 10 days of the verdict being entered

The Closing Argument in South Florida DUI Trials

A closing argument is the grand finale of a trial. This final and climactic moment should be prepared for well in advance and it should be the culmination of months of preparation and litigation. The closing argument should tie together all of the elements of the case and tie them neatly together to point to your fundamental theory of defense for the trial.

Tips for Closing Arguments in South Florida DUI Trials

  • Never read the closing argument directly from a piece of paper
  • Be eloquent and confident but do not be so animated that it distracts jurors
  • Look each and everyone juror in the eyes and let them see your passion for your client's innocence

Click the image below to see the rest of our lecture series:

David Tarras of the Rossen Law Firm explains all the tips and tricks for a DUI trial