The “wheel witness” defense is a common challenge to a DUI in which an accident occurred. This defense is used, often in single car accidents, in which no one witnessed the defendant driving the vehicle. Without a witness, it becomes more difficult for the state to prove the driver was intoxicated. The State Attorney must establish every element of the DUI, including evidence that the defendant was driving the vehicle under the influence and that the defendant caused the accident to occur. Even if the defendant admitted to driving the vehicle, these statements can be protected by the Accident Report Privilege. This privilege applies to reports made as part of an accident investigation and prevents the use of the defendant’s statements in a civil or criminal case.
The Accident Report Privilege will not prevent use of the defendant’s statements in certain situations. In such circumstances, the doctrine of corpus delicti could be used as a defense. Through this doctrine the state is required to prove each element of the DUI before using any statement made by the defendant. Thus the elements of the DUI must be made independently. Proof of the DUI can be difficult without a witness to the accident.
If you were in an accident caused by intoxication, contact our DUI attorneys immediately at 1-888-781-9696 to discuss your “wheel witness” defense.