Determining DUI Based on Circumstances of the Accident in New York

In People v. Booden, 69 NY2d 185, 505 N.E.2d 598; 513 N.Y.S.2d 87 (1987) a police officer arriving at the scene of an accident at 3:00 a.m. found a vehicle in a ditch facing in the wrong direction and three persons standing alongside. The highway was dry and there was no indication of what might have caused the accident. Upon inquiry, the defendant stated that he had been driving, that he swerved to avoid hitting a deer and that the vehicle belonged to his father. Further investigation revealed defendant was intoxicated. The Court held that the circumstances of the accident were sufficient to show that the vehicle had been driven by a person under the influence of alcohol and, accordingly to establish that the offense had actually been committed. In sum, in People v. Booden, a prosecution for driving while intoxicated, the fact that there were no observable circumstances to show the cause of an accident was sufficient to corroborate the admission of an intoxicated person...that he had been operating the vehicle. The Court explained that the circumstances may have been capable of innocent explanation, but they nonetheless supported an inference that a crime had been committed...Defendant's admission was the key that explained those circumstances and established defendant's connection to the criminal act.' (69 NY2d at 188.)