Not everyone may understand at first why a Michigan resident received only a one-year jail sentence — with a possible six-month suspension — after fatally striking a 19-year-old with his vehicle. The motorist responsible faced a charge of a moving violation causing death for the accident, which occurred in a Clinton County construction zone. The offense is a misdemeanor that comes with a maximum one-year punishment of jail time and a driver’s license suspension. 

The prosecution sought to prove that the accident was a result of the motorist driving under the influence, but the evidence presented was not strong enough for a conviction. As reported by Fox 17 News, although the driver showed cocaine in his system at the time of testing, which occurred immediately after the collision, the lab results did not provide evidence of intoxication at the time he rear-ended the other vehicle. 

Burden of proof 

Generally, prosecutors must prove that an individual facing a DUI or OWI charge was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time the accident occurred. If testing shows a trace residue of a substance indicating a motorist’s intoxication was in evidence a day or more before an accident, it is insufficient proof to convict an individual of DUI. A motorist’s intoxication must be evident and proven during the time of a crash to result in a conviction. 

Traces of an intoxicant could remain 

Certain intoxicants may remain within an individual’s system for quite some time after their actual ingestion. Legal substances, such as cannabidiol, might also show up as tetrahydrocannabinol in lab results. 

To prove a motorist was driving under the influence, law enforcement officials may administer roadside sobriety tests. In some cases, an individual under arrest may refuse to undergo a blood or urine test to determine his or her level of intoxication. While officials use these test results to charge and prosecute alleged offenders, they may not always serve as an all-inclusive arbiter of intoxication. 

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