This defense is most applicable in the case of an accident, when the police may be unable to prove who was actually driving the car when the accident occurred. The definition for a California DUI is both expansive and quite particular. The arresting officer must prove that the accused was driving or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. For that reason, he or she must directly witness the individual in question operating the vehicle.
Clearly, a traditional DUI involves a traffic stop, a DUI investigation by the arresting officer, and subsequent detainment of the subject. However, when the identity of the driver can be called into question, the officer will be hard-pressed to prove who should be detained or subject to a DUI investigation. After all, it’s not illegal to be a drunk passenger. The simple answer is that he or she cannot. If your case involves any speculation on the part of the police officer, consider working with a San Jose DUI lawyer to help challenge the identity of the driver. Now, let us turn to an example.
A traffic accident with no injuries occurs at 12:01 a.m. on a Saturday morning. The accident involves only two cars, and each car contained two people at the time of impact. The police, for whatever reason, do not arrive on the scene until 12:45 a.m. At that time, they determine that the accident has been caused by car A, which made an illegal left-hand turn in front of car B. While it is clear to the police that car A is at fault, it is not clear who was driving; there are two people who were in the car at the time of the accident. Because car A is at fault, officers might administer a field sobriety test or a BAC breath test to the person who seemed to be driving the car. But, if one individual in car A is sober and the other is clearly intoxicated, how can the officers be certain who was actually operating the vehicle? The truth is that they cannot. Barring extenuating circumstances, the identity of the driver may not ever be known.
If you’ve been charged with a hit-and-run, a San Jose DUI lawyer from Summit Defense may be able to prove the same ambiguity and reduce charges. If the police arrive at the scene hours after an accident has occurred, then there is no way for them to determine who was driving or whether or not they were intoxicated (at .08% BAC) at the time of the occurrence. *See also section on “DUI Without Driving.”
If you need a San Jose DUI lawyer, look no further than our skilled legal team. Give us a call for all your DUI-related questions and concerns.