Written by attorney Mitchell Scott Sexner

DUI blackouts

Probably one of the most frightening experiences imaginable is waking up at a police station and having no memory at all of what happened or how you got there. Unfortunately, this happens in some circumstances. The reason for the lack of memory could be the result of a large number of different reasons and will vary in every case, although typically it results from excessive alcohol consumption or the synergistic effect of alcohol and certain drugs. That being said, the main concern for most people is how “not remembering anything" will affect their DUI case.

One of the most important components of case preparation is the initial meeting between the attorney and client, where at that time they discuss the events that took place which lead to the arrest. When a client does not remember what happened, the initial stages of preparation are more difficult. Often, the actual police reports for the incident will not be available until at least the first court date and all the client has been given after arrest is their bond slip. In DUI cases however, people are usually given substantially more paperwork than in most other criminal cases, including a law enforcement sworn report, a warning to motorist sheet, notice of statutory summary suspension, and traffic tickets. These documents will usually give a snapshot of the evidence against someone charged and can help the attorney piece together what happened, even if the client cannot remember.

In addition, some crimes require a specific mental state or intent for the defendant to be found guilty. DUIs are different. In Illinois, no specific mental state is required for a person to be found guilty of DUI. Thus, a DUI is a strict liability offense. This means that a person can be found guilty of DUI even if the person was not intending to break any law. As such, simply not remembering what happened is not a defense to DUI. While other defenses may be available in DUI cases, they would have to be extracted from the reports and testimony of the officer(s) and witnesses if the client truly cannot remember what took place.

Additional resources provided by the author

If you, a family member or friend has been charged with any criminal or traffic matter, we urge you to contact an experienced attorney. Such an attorney will carefully evaluate your case and explain the legal options available to you at no charge.

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