Where a DUI Can Happen in Manassas
One of the most common misconceptions among drivers is that driving under the influence can only occur while the vehicle is in motion on the road. However, this is not the case. People can be charged with intoxicated driving even if the car is parked and not yet turned on. It is important to understand where a DUI can happen in Manassas so that you can take proper precautions to avoid legal trouble.
How Does the Law Define “Driving” in Manassas?
Commonwealth law makes it illegal to drive or operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated. There remains some confusion about what it means to “operate” the vehicle, however, such as whether sitting in a parked car and listening to the radio would constitute driving or ope rating the vehicle. After several cases came before the Virginia Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, the courts ultimately decided that anytime someone is behind the steering wheel and has the key in the ignition, that person is operating the vehicle. This means that a person could be cited for a DUI even if they are parked in their driveway with the car off and no intention of driving it.
Where Can Someone be Arrested for a DUI Other Than the Road?
Virginia’s DUI law does not specify where individuals can or cannot be arrested. Someone can be charged with a DUI anywhere they are operating the vehicle, including a parking lots or driveway. The Commonwealth’s courts declared that people parked in their car while intoxicated pose the same danger as those driving drunk on the roadway because it would take little effort to suddenly begin driving the vehicle.
Non-Roadway DUIs Are Common
It is common for people to be arrested for a DUI in Manassas in areas other than the road. Police officers commonly conduct foot patrols of the parking lots of local bars after closing time to see if anyone is sleeping off the intoxication in their car, especially in in the City of Manassas and its local park. However, if the individual has the car turned on, DUI law considers them to be operating the vehicle.
To prove a DUI case in court, Manassas prosecutors only need to demonstrate that the keys were in the ignition and the defendant was in the driver’s seat of the car.
The only way to contest the evidence of whether someone was driving or operating the vehicle is through fact-based testimony. The defendant would need to use witness testimony, the police report, or photographic evidence to prove that they did not meet the criteria for operation of a vehicle.
An Attorney Could Explain Where DUIs Happen in Manassas
An intoxicated person who is inside their car should do everything possible to avoid even putting their key in the ignition. If they do, they are at risk of receiving a DUI, no matter where in Manassas it happens. A nearby attorney with experience defending these cases could help you determine the best defense strategy for your particular circumstances. Call now to discuss your options.