Los Angeles DUI and the Duress Defense

DUI and the Duress DefenseDrivers arrested for DUI offenses often inquire about the various legal DUI defenses that may be applicable to their particular case or situation. One legal defense that may apply in a DUI case is the “duress defense.” Under this defense, a person may not be criminally liable if it can be established that they only committed a criminal offense because they were threatened or under extreme pressure. It is important to understand what the duress defense is and how it could potentially apply to a DUI case.

Elements of a Duress Defense

In order to assert a duress defense, the following elements must exist: 1) there must have been an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to the defendant, 2) the defendant had a reasonable fear that someone would act on the threat and 3) the defendant had no reasonable ability to escape, other than committing an unlawful act.

The classic example is a person who has a gun held to their head and it forced to commit a criminal act in order to avoid being shot. There are other situations where this would apply, including situations where an impaired driver is forced to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol under threat of violence.

Duress Defense in DUI Cases

There may be cases where a defendant charged with a DUI offense may have a valid duress defense. The driver may be threatened with violence and ordered to drive a vehicle in order to assist someone who is committing a crime. In these situations, the defendant would be able to argue that the threat was valid and the crime of driving under the influence was only committed to avoid an immediate threat to life or limb. This would not apply to drivers who are accessories to a criminal act.

Another situation where a driver may be able to assert a duress defense involves situations where he or she is placed in immediate danger and it is necessary to drive away in order to avoid harm. In this scenario, the driver would have a legitimate duress defense only until the dangerous situation has gone away. It may be a defense to drive away from a bar while intoxicated after a person with a gun begins shooting up the bar or threatening people. However, the driver would have to stop driving as soon as he or she has sufficiently escaped the dangerous situation.

Prosecutors and law enforcement officers may be very skeptical about any duress claims made by DUI defendants. Because impaired driving is an inherently dangerous activity, courts may not support a driver’s choice to drive impaired and put others in danger, even when facing a legitimate threat.

The defense would have to show that all elements required were present and that the defendant’s conduct was excusable and that the threat of danger was still very real and present at the time he or she was caught driving under the influence. It is critical that anyone who may believe that he or she has a valid duress claim should retain a knowledgeable DUI attorney right away, as these claims can be very tricky to prove in court and require a lawyer who understands how the laws surrounding duress work.

If you or a loved one have been arrested for or charged with DUI and believe there may be a valid duress defense, it is crucial that you discuss your case with an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Michael Kraut is highly respected as a top-notch litigator who fights hard on behalf of his clients.

For more information about Los Angeles DUI and the duress defense, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

Share |
Client Reviews
★★★★★
Michael Kraut is outstanding! He genuinely cared about my case and instructed my mom and I throughout the entire process. He was very clear on what he needed in order to receive the best results. He kept us updated until the end. I thank him so much for getting my charges rejected. I highly recommend him to anyone with legal needs! Shaquan Thomas
★★★★★
I contacted Michael with concern for my personal and business reputation. He was very reassuring and confident the entire time. After about 3 weeks it was determined that no charges were being filed by any agency and I was in the clear of any investigation. One thing that is amazing is just how FAST Michael is at replying to phone calls, texts, and even emails! We are talking under 30 minutes in most cases. That is unheard of for most attorneys! Michael is incredible and not your typical run of the mill attorney. For best results hire him if you feel like you might be under investigation or could face charges. Even if you know you are innocent it is best to take care of the smoke before it becomes a fire. Brad
★★★★★
Michael Kraut is-hands down-the best criminal defense attorney and I can't begin to thank him for all that he did for me and my family. I reached out to him in the middle of the night and less than a couple hours later, he had gotten back to me and scheduled a meeting. He's a no-nonsense attorney who knows how to get the job done! From the second we retained him, I had peace of mind in knowing that we were in the best hands possible. If Michael Kraut couldn't get it done, I knew that it couldn't be done at all. You can't put a price tag on your freedom. He was worth every single penny. Lida
★★★★★
Michael Kraut is an outstanding attorney. He was extremely professional, and straightforward, yet sensitive with my case. I am confident I made the right choice by hiring Michael. I highly recommend him to anyone seeking a truly experienced lawyer. Daniel Lepervanche
★★★★★
Michael Kraut - I cannot thank you enough for all that you did for ​my son. When I came to you I read that you used to be a district attorney but I never knew how much that meant until I watch you in court. I knew it took 3 months but the final day when I heard the judge say that all charges were dismissed it was all worth it! I will always be grateful for all that you did for us. A.N.