|Some other dude did it = Mistaken Identity|
How does that stack up in the reality of New York DWI defense? Can it be used if they (the police) didn't see you drive?
The Charge of a New York DWI Doesn't Require a Police Witness
You know in some states, like Florida, the police have to witness you commit a misdemeanor. They can't even charge you with a Florida DUI without seeing you drive the car.
This is just not true in the state of New York. In New York you can be charged by circumstantial evidence of operation. Noticed I said "operation" because in New York you don't even need actual "driving" to be charged with a DWI, just the intent to drive.
New York Police Don't Even Need Driving to Prove a DWI
You have keys, behind the wheel, car not even running, BINGO, that's enough to say operation. Why? Because it is assumed you had the intent to operate that automobile. There are many different situations where OPERATION can be inferred via circumstantial evidence.
There are Many Typical New York Circumstantial Evidence DWI Scenarios
The police pass Wegman's see no-one in the parking lot one minute, then 5 minutes later they drive by again and lo and behold you are there, BINGO, the assumption is you must have drove there.
They come up on a car parked on the side of the road. You are behind the wheel. BINGO, you drove there. You may have drove four hours ago, it don't matter because they got operation.
And lastly, the most common one in which the SODDI (some other dude did it, as in drove) defense is often invoked. Police come to investigate an accident, you are someplace either in the car or outside the car. You state someone else was behind the wheel, it wasn't you. A guy or girl friend that you know or just met was there BUT they left. They didn't want to stick around for whatever reason, maybe they said they had a prior DWI or they had a warrant outstanding or maybe they just don't like the police or getting arrested?
How Strong or Good a Defense is the SODDI for a New York DWI?
As many lawyers love to say, It depends? Well the strength of the defense "depends" on a number of facts:
Who does the car belong to?
If it's your car, it's a weaker defense. After all you usually drive your own car, unless you are a celebrity and it's a limousine.
Where is the car located?
If you are out in the middle of the woods or Upstate New York (aren't they the same thing?). It's not like they (the other person) are catching a train or a bus or walking to get help.
How likely is that someone you know is just walking away from an accident?
If you were hurt, how bad? Are they really your friend if they are leaving you there hurt and bleeding?
The bottom line is: Is this story of Some Other Dude DROVE plausible?
Would SIX people (a misdemeanor jury) believe that if the police came up to an accident scene where you smell, look, and are in fact under the influence of alcohol or other substances that your story of the OTHER person driving was in fact true and not made up?
If it's your car wrapped around that tree, and you are in or around it, this is a lot to ask a jury to buy. That this mystery person was in fact the DWI driver and NOT YOU, because often the story is a stranger was driving your car and they vanished into the night. They didn't want the police to charge them with a DWI, and you are now taking the fall for their actions so to speak.
In my years of practice the Some Other Dude Did It for a New York DWI is not a very strong defense under the above set of circumstances.
When is SODDI (Some Other Dude Did It) a Potential Defense for New York DWI?
It can be a potential defense with a car full of people, or at the very least more than one person at the scene. It can be a defense if it's not your car, if you are not the owner. It can be a defense if the car is a rental, and you are using it on a business trip. It can be a defense if other people (witnesses) can corroborate seeing people flee the scene.
Every DWI case has to be evaluated completely as to POTENTIAL defenses. Every element of the case from the operation, Blood Alcohol Content, any police testing, statements, timing, location, witnesses, video, etc. because No two DWI situations are exactly the same.