In a DUI case, one of the most important state witnesses is the person who can testify that the accused was the person driving the car. This witness is called the "wheel witness" because they can place the accused behind the wheel of the car.
In most DUI cases, the wheel witness is the officer who pulled the car over. Most DUI cases begin with a simple traffic stop so it is logical that the wheel witness would be the officer who stopped you.
However, what if the officer arrives on the scene and the driver is not behind the wheel of the car? Maybe there was an accident or your car experienced problems so you had to pull over onto the shoulder of the road and activate your hazard lights.
The DUI statute in Florida requires proof that the accused was operating a motor vehicle or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle. Current Florida cases permit the state to prove that the accused was operating or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle through circumstantial evidence.
However, without conclusive proof of who was driving the car, your chances of beating the DUI increase dramatically.
If you are arrested for a DUI, criminal traffic offense, or felony involving the operation of a car and you believe that no witness can place you behind the wheel, discuss that with your defense attorney. That fact can be very important to your defense.