If a police officer sees you asleep behind the wheel of a parked car, believes there is probable cause to test you for intoxication, and finds your blood alcohol content (BAC) at .08 or higher, you may get arrested for drunk driving, even though you were not driving.
New York has interesting case laws for determining DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while impaired). How the court may rule largely depends on the specific circumstances.
Questions a Westchester DWI lawyer may ask when developing a DUI defense include:
- Were you intending to drive or just intending to sleep off your drunkenness?
- Was the car running or turned off?
- Were your keys in the ignition or in your pocket?
- Were you in the front or back seat of your car when you fell asleep?
In The People v. Joseph O’Connor, the court examined case precedents established by similar drunk driving cases. A breathalyzer test stated that O’Connor’s BAC was .22, which left no doubt that he was intoxicated. The key factor for ruling on The People v. Joseph O’Connor was whether the defendant was operating the vehicle. While the police officer testified that the vehicle moved three to five feet from its parked position, the defendant and his witness testified that the defendant’s vehicle did not move, nor was the defendant intending to drive.
Similar cases that the court considered to determine operation involved cases where:
- A defendant attempted to start the vehicle
- A defendant was asleep behind the wheel and drove half a block after awakened by a police officer
- A defendant was observed sitting behind the wheel with the engine off and then on, which the court interpreted as intending to drive
- An officer discovered the defendant drunk behind the wheel in a car damaged by collision with a guardrail
In these cases, the defendant either drove or was attempting to drive the vehicle. As O’Connor did not do so, the court ruled that the defendant was not operating the vehicle and found him not guilty of DWI.
To protect your rights in a DUI or DWI case, contact a DUI lawyer in your area. He or she can mount a strong defense on your behalf to have the charges against you reduced or dismissed.