North Hollywood, CA asked in DUI / DWI for California

Q: Can DUI charges be based off accusations from two eye witnesses after an accident w/ no police involvement?

Here is the scenario in question:

Person A rear ended Person B going maybe 15 mph, no damage to person b car (only person a car sustained damage), person b accused person a of being intoxicated, then another person (person c) who saw it said they would act as a witness for Person B. Person A was extremely tired that afternoon due to frequent, habitual sleep disturbances they have had for many years (Which have been documented and for which person a has been prescribed meds, though person a rarely takes them since they make person a groggy. (Person a hadn’t taken them for weeks leading up to the day of the fender bender)

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3 Lawyer Answers
Jean Richardson
Jean Richardson
PREMIUM
Answered
  • DUI & DWI Lawyer
  • North Miami, FL

A: For someone to be charged with a DUI, law enforcement has to be involved. Eye witnesses can always testify to their observations and whether they smell alcohol or not. LEO must conduct investigation. For instance the responding officer or DUI unit would request field sobriety exercises and breath test. If the officer has reasons to believe you are DUI, you will be arrested and charged accordingly. If there were no FSE, no breath test, no DUI arrest, the state is not going to prosecute based on assumptions by non LEO eye witnesses.

Dale S. Gribow
Dale S. Gribow
Answered
  • DUI & DWI Lawyer
  • Palm Desert, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: more info needed.

I doubt if a filing deputy DA would think there was enough to file.

usually, you needed a police officer to view/observe and take a breath or blood test.

if filed a good DUI will get it dismissed.

Mr. Hudson Thomas Bair
Mr. Hudson Thomas Bair
Answered
  • DUI & DWI Lawyer
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: It would be extremely difficult for law enforcement to make a case for DUI without a chemical test. As you point out in your question, circumstantial evidence of intoxication can have numerous causes (including sleep deprivation). Therefore DUI charges based solely on citizen witnesses and their observations is highly defensible and unlikely to result in charges being filed.

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