Can a Cop Give You a DWI If He Didn’t See You Driving?
The answer to this question is complex and depends on the facts of the case, and the circumstances of the arrest.
There are three common scenarios under which a police officer may issue a DUI citation or make the arrest even though no law enforcement officer personally witnessed driving. Here are the scenarios:
- The accident: Often times police are called to accidents involving alleged impaired drivers. It is rare that a police officer actually saw the driving. In this case they will need some evidence that you were the driver in order to succeed with charges. That evidence may be in the form of a civilian witness, or other circumstantial evidence such as seat belt lacerations consistent with sitting in the driver’s seat. It can also be from the fact that the vehicle belongs to you and there is nobody else around.
- The parked vehicle: Sometimes police find you parked in your vehicle, or passed out. The vehicle is not in motion. Most states have some form of physical control law that may allow them to proceed based on your potential use of the vehicle.
- A non-police witness calls you in. There is no accident, just a citizen complaint. The eyewitness testimony putting you behind the wheel may be enough in some states.
Since DUI law is different in each state, it is important to review the laws of the state where your case is pending, and to consult with a local attorney to make sure that you have the most current information that applies directly to you and your case.