When you wake up in your own bed after a night out with friends, you may consider yourself lucky that you made it throughout the night without running into any legal trouble. But then the police show up at your door and inform you that they suspect you drove home drunk the night before and that they would like to bring you in for questioning. Is such behavior legal, and can law enforcement still arrest you for a DUI after the fact?
According to FindLaw, arrests for DUI after the fact are rare, but they do happen. If the police can prove their suspicions are correct, the penalties for a DUI after the fact are just as serious as a DUI arrest that occurred at your peak intoxication.
The elements of a DUI
Though DUI laws vary from state to state, the basic elements remain the same across jurisdictions. The first is that you drove a vehicle. The second is that, while operating the motor vehicle, you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
For obvious reasons, it is easier for law enforcement to prove the existence of these two elements if officers catch you in the act. However, though difficult to prove their existence after the fact, it is not impossible. In these types of cases, police may rely on eye-witness accounts from people who claim to have seen you swerving down the interstate, or who witnessed a hit-and-run accident that involved a vehicle of the same make and model as yours. In some cases, officers may use footage from toll stations that show your vehicle driving erratically up to the booth, or of you talking to the booth attendant and demonstrating common signs of inebriation while you do so.
If the police can prove that you drove, the next step is to prove that you drove while intoxicated. Officers can administer field sobriety tests in your home or wherever they find you. The accuracy of tests today can tell law enforcement when you last had a drink and at what level your BAC was at around the time you were driving.
Defenses to a DUI after the fact
In most cases, DUI after the fact cases are difficult to prove. Unless there are photos or footage of you driving at the time of the suspected crime, you can argue that it was not you behind the wheel. You may even argue that it was not your vehicle.
If you cannot deny your identity, however, you may be able to challenge the second element. For instance, you can claim that you started drinking only when you arrived home safely.
Though DUI after the facts are difficult to prove, you should not attempt to defend yourself on your own. A strong lawyer can help you explore your defense options and build a strong case.