Los Angeles DUI and the Necessity Defense

DUI and the Necessity Defense

For drivers who have been arrested for or charged with a DUI offense in the Los Angeles area, there are a number of DUI defenses that may apply. One recognized legal defense that may apply is the defense of necessity. Under this defense, the defendant may be excused for his or her conduct if it can be shown that he or she only drove while under the influence because it was legally necessary to do so. Effectively asserting this defense can be very complicated and it is critical that anyone who has a necessity defense claim should consult with a knowledgeable and experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible.

What is the Necessity Defense?

Under the necessity defense, a person can avoid criminal liability if he or she can show that there was a sufficiently valid and necessary reason to commit the crime. For example, a defendant who is charged with stealing a car may be able to argue a necessity defense if it can be shown that he or she took the car in order to drive someone to the emergency room to save their lives after an accident.

In order to prove a necessity defense, the defendant would have to establish the following six elements: 1) that the crime was committed in order to prevent a significant bodily harm or evil, 2) that there was no adequate legal alternative, 3) that the act did not create a greater danger, 4) that the defendant actually believed the act was necessary, 5) that the defendant reasonably believed that act was necessary and 6) that the defendant did not contribute to the underlying emergency situation. If these elements are all present, the defendant may be able to show that he or she should not be held liable for the underlying criminal offense.

Necessity Defense and DUI

There may be circumstances where a defendant charged with DUI would be able to assert a necessity defense. One situation may arise where the defendant is in a remote area with another person who suddenly suffers a medical emergency. Emergency services may be unavailable and a defendant who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol may have no other choice but to drive the other person to a hospital or other location for emergency treatment. Additionally, a defendant may be forced to get into a car and drive away if he or she is in danger or in distress. This may be another situation where a necessity defense would be applicable.

California courts have been very reluctant to extend the necessity defense to DUI cases. The dangers posed by DUI drivers and DUI collisions are extreme and as a result the situation that would justify impaired driving would have to be truly life threatening. With the advent of ride sharing services and other alternatives, a court may need to be fully convinced that the defendant had no other option but to drive while under the influence. Courts and prosecutors are often very hostile to these types of defenses and anyone alleging one should retain a skilled DUI defense attorney right away.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI offense and you believe that you may have a valid necessity defense, it is imperative that you discuss your case with an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Michael Kraut understands how to effectively litigate complex DUI issues that often arise. Mr. Kraut works hard to ensure that every avenue of defense is fully explored in defending clients charged with DUI.

For more information about Los Angeles DUI and the necessity 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.

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