There are times when you are arrested for a DUI when nobody saw you drive.  Here are common situations where this can happen;

  • You wreck your car on a deserted road and nobody shows up until time passes
  • You leave your car (it breaks down, or there is an accident) and you are found later at home or walking down the road
  • You are sleeping in a parked car and the police stop to check on your vehicle, finding you in it

The fact patterns listed above are general ones that come in lots of additional varieties.  For instance, the “parked car” situation happens with drivers parked outside a bar, by a convenience store, or along the road.  The car can be on or off.  Sometimes the “driver” is outside the car, inside it, in the driver’s seat, in the back, or in the passenger’s seat.

While it may be hard to understand how the district attorney can successfully prosecute someone for DUI when the arresting officer did not see the suspect behind the wheel driving the car, remember that driving is not necessary to prove a DUI.  If you are in “actual physical control” of a vehicle, you can be charged with DUI.  If you are in the driver’s seat, the car is running, and it is parked, and you are alongside the road, and you are over the legal limit, the police have enough evidence to charge you with DUI and get a conviction out of it.  Whether the car is on or off is an important data point.

The police also can rely on “circumstantial” evidence to prove a DUI.  Think about this example: If you look out your window on Christmas Eve and see a brown lawn and then go to bed, then you wake up the next morning and see snow on your lawn and footprints in your snow, then you know that someone walked across your lawn even if you did not see it.

If you are found in a car alongside a busy road where there is pretty steady traffic, and the car has run into a tree, the car’s hood is warm, there is steam coming out of the car, it is registered to you, and you are bloody from the accident, then a police officer coming along a few minutes later will probably be able to prove that you were driving the vehicle if there is a trial later.

But what if you are found sleeping in a car in a convenience store parking lot and your engine is off?  The officer gets you out and you are dead drunk and you admit to parking there about an hour before and security camera footage from the store shows you parking the car there around that time and nobody is getting in or out of the car.  Is this a DUI?  It might not be, and it would be an excellent case to take to trial.

A “nobody saw me drive” case can have lots of wrinkles to it.  Some of these situations present great opportunities for defenses at trial, while others are terrible cases for the defendant.  You should talk to an attorney to figure out whether the facts in your particular case are good or bad.

Call (717) 848-8455 to set up a free in-office consultation with York DUI Lawyer Joseph N. Gothie to talk about whether the failure of the police to see you driving is a good defense in your case.