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What should I do immediately following a DUI accident?

Naples, FL |

If I am driving while under the influence of alcohol and I subsequently cause property damage (not to another car but to another structure), and there are no witnesses, is my best bet to step out of the car, sit outside the passenger door and say nothing to anyone until I speak with an attorney? If the state cannot prove that I was in control of the vehicle at the time of the crash, can they still convict me of DUI/property damage? Could I still be held civilly liable?

Note: I am not trying to get away with DUI, and have no plans of driving while intoxicated in the future. I understand all of the dangers associated with DUI. I am merely seeking an expert opinion, not legal advice.

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Attorney answers 9


It is hard to answer hypothetical questions. Furthermore we can not give you advice on how to break the law. I would suggest you read all the DUI questions so you can see how these cases operate. Take care

Please be advised that answering your questions does not establish an attorney-client relationship with myself or my firm. We would be more than happy to set up a free consultation if you call us at 407-588-6714 and specifically mention AVVO or email me at and put AVVO in the subject line.


First, never drive under the influence.
Being outside the vehicle with the keys removed would make it more difficult for the police to prove that you were driving or in actual physical control of the vehicle. Do not speak to the police or anyone about the accident. Ask to speak to an attorney. If the state cannot prove that you were driving on in actual physical control of the vehicle it will make it VERY difficult for them to charge you with DUI.

Call me if you have any questions

Larry McmMillan 305-444-0030


Look at questions on this site and others that deal with "actual physical control". While in the theoretical scenario you describe it would be hard to prove that you were driving the vehicle, it would be easier to prove that you were in actual physical control. And the case law is very bad for defendants in that regard.
Also, something to keep in mind is that when one is under the influence of alcohol it is very hard to remember to do all of these things: step outside the car, say nothing to anyone, etc. One tends to forget their well-laid plans and do something stupid when one drinks. Like drive. And then admit to doing so to the first person they see, like a police officer.


I agree with the responding attorneys. You should seek legal counsel to advise as to the details of your case. I hope you found my answer helpful.


Don't drink and drive and you won't have to worry about it. The burden is on the state to prove that you were in actual physical control. This can be proven by circumstantial evidence. Assuming you don't take the stand and lie you could be convicted in a situation such as the scenario you posted. Obviously a defense attorney would attack the evidence but its not a guaranteed dismissal.


This is one tough question. If you are near the car, and particularly if it is your car, that might be enough circumstantial evidence to convict. In many states they have to prove they got your blood within so many hours of when you last drove so by not talking they may have a hard time proving when you last drove i.e. the time of the accident. As for being civilly liable, somehow I can see them bringing you to a deposition even if they have to sue John or Jane Doe to get the case started until they identify the driver. You could probably take the fifth amendment privilege at such but obviously at that point, you should get a lawyer. These situations are always problematic. I get calls all the time from people who left the scene of the accident. Not the same thing but that is a very difficult situation for a lawyer. Some might disagree.


They do not have to catch you driving or in the driver's seat. They have to prove that you were driving. This can be done with circumstantial evidence and often is.

The best expert opinion I can render is that you do not want to be driving under the influence or over the legal BAC limit. Period. You can get a portable breath test machine from for less than $50. If you are going to drive after drinking, you owe it to yourself and the rest of us to get one, use it, and pay attention to the results.

Confidential information should not be disclosed in this Internet forum. Click on the "More..." link for IMPORTANT INFORMATION about this AVVO Answer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I am an experienced Wisconsin lawyer. The laws in each jurisdiction can be very different. I cannot give legal advice over the internet nor can I establish an attorney client relationship with you. You should NOT assume or otherwise conclude that there is an attorney -client relationship between any reader and this writer or his firm. These comments are only guideposts. They are not subject to any privilege protections. Indeed, these internet communications are neither privileged nor confidential. Accordingly, those using this form of communication need to be guarded in what they write. Because of the nature of these communications the information is general only and should not be relied upon in any specific case. This internet site is public forum, where the communications are not confidential or privileged. There may very well be merit to your defense or position in this type of situation. However, there are hardly sufficient details for an attorney to provide you with some path to follow. It is imperative that ALL of the facts in a particular situation be examined. No conclusion can be drawn from the communication that you have provided. There are some matters that are just better handled by an attorney familiar with the procedures of the courts in your area. Most, if not all, legal matters should not be handled via internet communication. At best, the responders on this site can give you a few hints and guidance. To deal with a legal problem, nothing is better than to consult with a lawyer who will give you some time and advice. If you cannot afford an attorney, there should be agencies in your area that can provide discounted, or even free, legal services. For a definitive answer you should seek legal advice from an attorney who (1) is licensed to practice in the state which has jurisdiction; (2) has experience in the area of law you are asking about, and (3) has been retained as your attorney for representation or consultation. Your question and the attorney’s answer may be used for promotional or educational purposes.


Here's your duty under Florida statute.

316.063 Duty upon damaging unattended vehicle or other property.—
(1) The driver of any vehicle which collides with, or is involved in a crash with, any vehicle or other property which is unattended, resulting in any damage to such other vehicle or property, shall immediately stop and shall then and there either locate and notify the operator or owner of the vehicle or other property of the driver’s name and address and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving, or shall attach securely in a conspicuous place in or on the vehicle or other property a written notice giving the driver’s name and address and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving, and shall without unnecessary delay notify the nearest office of a duly authorized police authority. Any person who fails to comply with this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

They have to prove that you were the driver but being outside the vehicle makes it more difficult.


Hire a lawyer with experience handling DUIs.

The information provided herein is provided as general legal information and does not constitute legal advice. The information is based on the facts given and should not be relied upon by the reader. An attorney-client relationship is not established by this transmitting this information. The best way to receive accurate advice and establish an attorney-client relationship is by retaining a licensed attorney.

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