Defining Driving in Colonial Heights DUI Cases

Defining driving in Colonial Heights DUI cases is an instrumental part of proving or disproving an offense. The DUI statute does not use the term “driving” and instead reads “operating” a motor vehicle. The General Assembly specifically uses the word ‘operating,’ so everyone should know that they do not have to actually be driving the vehicle, have it turned on, or have their foot on the gas in order to be found guilty or to be charged with a DUI. Operating means having the key in the ignition and the battery turned on. Generally, if the key is in the ignition and the battery is on, then they will be considered operating a motor vehicle for the purposes of DUIs. If you have been charged with a DUI offense, a capable DUI attorney could use the definition of driving to contest your charges.

Can Passengers be Charged with a DUI?

A passenger can be charged with a DUI if the judge finds that they are essentially under control of the vehicle while they are intoxicated. When defining driving in Colonial Heights DUI cases, the issue of control is quite important. As an example, a person can be charged with a DUI if they are a passenger, they are intoxicated, the car is on, the driver is operating the pedals, and they are steering from the passenger seat. That can be enough to lead to them getting a DUI as well as the driver.

Places Can People be Arrested for DUIs

A person can be arrested for a DUI anywhere. Off-the-road DUIs are about 25% of DUIs in Colonial Heights. Where they are arrested is immaterial to the DUI; it is all about where they were operating the vehicle. If an officer is following them and they are swerving all over the road and then they pull into their driveway, then they could be arrested for DUI.

If they are asleep in their car on the side of the road, the shoulders included in a highway, they can be arrested for DUI. If they are in a private parking lot or a private road, then they cannot be arrested for DUI unless the Commonwealth Attorney can prove that they were operating that motor vehicle on a public highway in some way, shape, or form. Certain parking lots can be considered public highways depending on the nature and style of the parking lot, and even if it is a strictly private parking lot or just the person’s driveway, they may still be fined.

What the Prosecution Must Prove

The prosecutors are only going to need to prove that the person was operating a motor vehicle and, at the time they were operating it, they were under some form of intoxicant.  A DUI can be contested in many different ways. In order to prove driving, the prosecution must prove that they were only operating a motor vehicle on a public highway and, at the time of operating the motor vehicle, they were under some form of intoxicant, whether it be illegal or legal drugs or alcohol. There are two ways in challenging the operation of a motor vehicle: fact-based and law-based.

Challenging Driving

In a fact-based challenging of the operating of a motor vehicle, their lawyer will attempt to challenge the actual operation of the car to show whether or not they were operating the vehicle. The keys may not be in the ignition, for example. The car may not even be turned on. They may be asleep in the back seat, so they are not really operating the motor vehicle, or they may be sleeping in the passenger’s seat not touching the steering wheel. They may not be in the vehicle at all or may be found in the bed of a truck. It is also possible to challenge the legal basis of the DUI and the operation of the motor vehicle. Can the Commonwealth prove that the person operated a motor vehicle within three hours of the arrest? Is this an accident type of situation? The person could have been sober when they were operating the motor vehicle and then, later on, became more intoxicated. It is important to make the Commonwealth show and prove when the intoxication took place and by defining driving in Colonial Heights DUI cases, the defense has the opportunity to disprove the offense. If an individual wants to know more about driving during DUI offenses, they should consult a skilled DUI attorney.