To prove driving in West Palm Beach DUI cases, the prosecution has to prove that the person is actually behind the wheel operating a motor vehicle at the time that the person was pulled over by an officer or the time of an accident. If they cannot prove that the person is operating a motor vehicle at the time of the stop or the accident, they can prove driving by saying that the person is in actual physical control of the vehicle.
That is, the person has the ability to operate the motor vehicle on moment’s notice. Actual physical control examples would be someone asleep behind the wheel with the keys in the ignition, or asleep behind the wheel with the keys in their pocket. There are people who have been arrested in the passenger seat with the keys in the ignition with law enforcement saying that they could have slipped over right away and operated that motor vehicle.
Ways to Prove Driving
The prosecution can prove driving two ways and the obvious one is that the person is actually operating the motor vehicle at the time it was stopped or the time of the crash. The time of the stop would be witnessed by a law enforcement officer when they pulled the person over, the person is the one that they pulled over and the person is the one who rolled down the window and the person is the one that hands them the driver’s license.
It could be at the time of the crash, where there are two vehicles and one person says, “That guy hit me” and there is a witness that can prove that the person is driving. The other element that could satisfy driving would be that the person just has actual physical control of the vehicle even though the person is not operating in a roadway but the person is in the vehicle and able to operate it at moment’s notice.
Contesting Elements of the Prosecution
An essential element in any DUI cases is the wheel witness. Law enforcement needs a DUI defendant behind the wheel of the car to prove that they were the actual driver. The tactics will be to try and locate that witness and see whether or not they can prove that they were the driver and whether or not they can identify the driver. The tactics are to isolate the witness that says that the person was either the driver or in actual physical control of the vehicle.
A typical case where this becomes a critical issue is where there is a traffic accident. A traffic accident typically is not witnessed by a police officer or law enforcement, they are called after the fact and they arrive on the scene, typically after all parties are out of the car. If it is just two people involved in an accident with two vehicles, it is pretty easy to isolate who each driver is. But if there are multiple people in each car, it may not be clear unless people are pointing fingers at one another or will testify or give statements, it may not be so easy to ascertain who the driver of each vehicle is.
Defenses Against Proving Driving
The defense of whether or not the defendant was driving comes into play more often when a person has an accident. Because the officer did not witness the defendant driving and also it would come into play in these cases which are called actual physical control cases if there is no driver, the person was in the car and they are saying, the defendant could have operated the motor vehicle on a moment’s notice. A DUI attorney might try to get the testimony of a witness who is not law enforcement, in order to get their assessment of the situation. Proving driving in West Palm Beach DUI cases can be complicated by the testimony of non-police eyewitnesses. If you have been charged with a DUI, consult a qualified attorney with experience disproving driving, and defending DUI cases in West Palm Beach.