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Drunk Driving Cases: What Must The Defense Turn Over To The Prosecutor?

DUI discovery is the same as in all other criminal cases. There are reciprocal discovery rules, meaning that both the prosecutor and the defense are entitled to discovery.

The defense discovery is mandated by California Penal Code Section 1054.3. Under this code, the defense must disclose, “The names and addresses of persons, other than the defendant, he or she intends to call as witnesses at trial, together with any relevant written or recorded statements of those persons, or reports of the statements of those persons, including any reports or statements of experts made in connection with the case, and including the results of physical or mental examinations, scientific tests, experiments or comparisons which the defendant intends to offer in evidence at the trial.”

Although both the prosecutor and defense must abide by these rules, the defense is often in a different position than the prosecutor. The prosecutor has the burden to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and the defense is not required to prove anything. The defendant’s drunk driving attorney may not have an affirmative defense, but instead, the defense may call witnesses to impeach the evidence of the prosecutor; thus, the defense counsel may not know it will call a particular witness until after the testimony of the witnesses in the prosecution’s case-in-chief. Once counsel forms the intent to call a witness, Penal Code Section 1054.3 applies.

In addition, the defense must also disclose, “Any real evidence which the defendant intends to offer in evidence at the trial.”

Discovery is vital in the preparation of a drunk driving case. The defendant has a right to know the evidence the prosecuting authority has against them. This information allows the defendant to make an educated decision on how to proceed with their case. They may want to accept the prosecutor or judge’s offer and plead guilty. They may decide to file motions to try to get the case dismissed or limit the evidence that may be used against them in trial. Or, after review of all the evidence, it may become clear that the defendant should take their drunk driving matter to trial.

In the same respect, the prosecutor may review the discovery and decide to dismiss the case, file additional charges, give an offer with more or less penalties, or decide to proceed with trial.

A skilled, DUI defense attorney will request and review all the discovery in your matter, negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf, and advise you on how best to proceed with your case. If a trial is your best option, the attorney will provide discovery as required under the penal code section discussed above.

The above blog article is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may change and may not apply to your case. For the latest information or to get legal advice, speak to a DUI attorney in your area.


If you have been charged with drunk driving in San Diego County, you need to hire The Law Offices of Susan L. Hartman,the exclusively DUI defense firm, to aggressively defend your case.

Contact us now for a free telephone consultation to discuss your rights, defenses, and the best strategy on how to handle your matter. Call 619-260-1122 or use the “Contact Us” form on this page.