Do You have to Testify at a DUI Trial?

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that a person cannot be compelled to be a witness against himself in a criminal trial.  This means that the prosecutor, in an DUI case, cannot force the defendant to testify as to whether he was under the influence, or on any other matter.

However, it may be in the person’s best interest to take the stand.  For instance, if a person is charged with drunk driving, but there is no breath, blood, or urine test, it may be in a sound trial strategy to have the defendant take the stand.  Often, alternative explanations for bad driving, failed field sobriety tests, slurred speech, red eyes, etc. will only be introduced through the defense.  The prosecutor is certainly not going to call any witness that will weaken his case.  That leaves it to the defense to explain why and how certain things happened and that it had nothing to do with being under the influence.

Expert and fact witnesses, aside from the defendant, may provide the defense with a chance to explain why a person may have exhibited certain behaviors, but often the only person in that position is the defendant.  An experienced DUI lawyer will spend time with his client to evaluate whether it is in their best interest to testify in his own DUI trial process, and be prepared to do so if the situation calls for it.

If you’ve been charged with DUI in Columbus and have questions about whether you should be prepared to take the stand in your own defense, contact an experienced DUI attorney at (614) 454-5010.

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