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Colorado Springs police, media assume driver in crash was DUI

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Car accidents happen for any number of reasons. When they are particularly spectacular, it can be easy to assume that intoxication was the cause, perhaps because many shocking DUI accidents have been reported on the news. The mere fact of an accident, however, does not imply the driver was drunk.

It's important to remember that when the media reports on car accidents, they essentially only have the ability to report what the police say. In a few cases they may interview a witness, but for the most part these stories come right off the police blotter. Defense attorneys have not yet been hired and the accused is often not in a position to talk to reporters.

Just before 7 a.m. on a Wednesday in January, according to KKTV-11 in Colorado Springs, a driver hit a car on a road near Brookside Street, which in turn struck a parked car. The first car then appeared to careen into a building on Brookside. As it turned out, the car did not hit the building but crashed close by. No structural damage was reported.

The police say the second car -- the one that was hit and then struck the parked car -- was driven by a drunk driver. Although the story was developing at the time of this writing, the police and the reporter made the logical leap that the first driver was DUI, as well.

The reporter did not specify what evidence police had that the first driver had been drinking. As far as we know, it was merely a hunch based on the drama of the car crash. However, it may well be the case that the second driver was drunk and was responsible for the entire chain of events.

Unfortunately, the crash did involve injuries. A female passenger was in the car that nearly hit the building, and she suffered serious injuries. A second person was also taken to the hospital, but it is who that was or the extent of their injuries. We wish the injured a speedy recovery.

In a news article, it's enough to report what the police believe happened. In a court of law, a charge of drunk driving or vehicular assault must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt -- and that means demonstrating that any reasonable alternative theories could not have occurred.

If you find yourself accused of drunk driving, don't panic. A DUI attorney can help.

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