It is not uncommon for a driver to be stopped for DUI after a concerned citizen spots him or her driving recklessly and calls 911 to report a suspected drunk driver. In most cases, the caller provides the information to the 911 operator, and his or her involvement ends upon hanging up the phone. However, in some instances, the caller may be asked to testify as a witness for the prosecution to establish the officer’s reason for pulling you over.
A civilian witness’s testimony carries a lot of weight with most jurors, so the best tactic for the defense is usually getting him or her off the stand as quickly as possible. It is usually not wise for your attorney to question this person’s credibility or do anything to make him or her look bad.
Victims can be even more powerful witnesses for the prosecution in Georgia DUI cases. If a person was injured or lost a loved one due to your impaired driving, his or her testimony can be extremely powerful. Once again, it is best to get this witness off the stand as soon as you can since the jury will be extremely sympathetic toward him or her—which can devastate your case.
Witnesses for the Defense
Although bartenders can be called as witnesses to prove how many drinks you had, their testimony is easily challenged. Even if the bartender testifies that the number of drinks you were served was nowhere near enough to make your blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal .08% limit, the prosecution can always say that you had additional drinks somewhere else.
If you had any passengers with you when you were arrested, they are also not likely to be useful for your defense, since they were probably drinking as well. Even if a passenger was sober and is able to provide testimony that conflicts with the officer’s, the prosecution can always challenge his or her testimony and destroy his or her credibility.
Character witnesses are also not useful for DUI cases. Your trial will focus on one event and one event only: your arrest. Any information that strays away from the facts is irrelevant.
In order to help the jury understand the evidence, both prosecutors and defense attorneys rely on the assistance of expert witnesses. This is a person who is prominent in his or her field and who can offer their professional opinion regarding a specific matter being addressed in court. In DUI cases, expert witnesses can be used to discuss:
– Field sobriety tests
– Blood or breath test results
– Errors with the breathalyzer
– Any medical conditions the defendant has that could impair his or her ability to pass field sobriety or BAC tests
One of the main differences between an expert witness and anyone else who is called to testify is that an expert witness can offer his or her opinion as testimony. In fact, their bias is being put to work by either the prosecution or the defense.
Contacting An Attorney
If any witnesses are involved in your DUI, it is important to let your attorney know about them immediately. Jurors tend to give a lot of weight to the words of witnesses; unfortunately, their testimony is much more likely to benefit the prosecution than your defense.