Eyewitnesses can be called to give testimony for both the prosecution and the defense in a DUI trial.
DUI is a crime that often has to be proven through breath tests, numbers, and the word of a police officer against a driver. In some cases, however, a third party actually witnessed what happened. This person can be subpoenaed and asked to give testimony at trial. Their word may carry a lot of weight, or not much at all, depending on the circumstances. Witnesses may either be hostile to you, or favorable to you.
In a DUI case, most witnesses are called by the prosecution. They are adverse or “hostile” to you and believe you are guilty. This kind of witness is most common when:
- There was an accident, and someone else saw what happened, or
- Someone noticed you driving in an unsafe way and called the police in the first place
In most other cases, a DUI begins with a roadside traffic stop, and there is rarely anyone around to see what happens.
These witnesses can be persuasive to a jury, but they often have a limited perspective. They may not have seen everything, or may have seen only how you drove and have no idea whether you were under the influence or not. In many cases a witness’s statement will contradict the police report or a key piece of evidence. Your lawyer may be able to discredit them.
In some cases you may be able to call a witness who is favorable to you. This is most common if you had someone else in the car with you who can vouch you were sober, or says there was another cause of an accident. In other cases, a friend may vouch that you were sober when you got into your car shortly before your arrest.
Bear in mind that many DUI cases end without going to trial. You do not have to worry about witnesses if you don’t go to court. A good DUI lawyer can often negotiate a favorable outcome for you without a trial.
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