When most people think of the term “DUI,” they think of someone who is driving while drunk. But is there such a thing as DUI when you’re not in the car? Do you have to be in the act of driving when police see you in order to be convicted of DUI in California?
Defining “Driving” Under the Law
Under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a), “a person drives a vehicle when he or she intentionally causes it to move by exercising actual physical control over it. The person must cause the vehicle to move, but the movement may be slight.” Therefore, it stands to reason that to be convicted of DUI, the prosecution must prove that you intentionally moved a vehicle, no matter how slight.
However, that does not mean that police officers must physically see you driving a vehicle while intoxicated in order to convict you. In the same way you could be convicted of murder without the police witnessing your murder, you could be convicted of DUI if the evidence available shows that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
DUI When Not in Car
So, how can you be convicted of DUI when you were not in the vehicle? The easiest way would be through circumstantial evidence. For instance, let’s say that police receive a call that someone is driving erratically on the road. When law enforcement arrives, they find a vehicle that matches the description given by the caller, which is your car. Although you are not in the vehicle at the time, police feel that the engine is warm and is making cooling down sounds. That could be circumstantial evidence that proves you were driving the vehicle.
There could also be hard evidence that shows you were driving the vehicle at the time. For example, traffic cameras or eye-witness testimony could prove that you were driving the vehicle.
Defending DUI When Not in Car
If you are accused of DUI and police did not physically see you driving, an experienced DUI defense attorney may be able to help you avoid a conviction. Some ways our skilled DUI lawyers have successfully defended clients facing DUI charges include:
- Attacking the credibility of the witnesses – Your lawyer may attempt to show that the witnesses may not have been able to see you physically driving the vehicle, or that their account that you were driving erratically is not true.
- You were not under the influence – Evidence that you were driving the vehicle is not enough to convict you of DUI. Prosecutors must also prove that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time you were driving. This can be incredibly difficult to prove if police were not able to administer tests around the time you allegedly committed DUI.
That is why it is extremely important for you to contact an experienced DUI lawyer if you are accused of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Contact the DUI Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one has been charged with DUI, you should contact a skilled DUI defense attorney right away. At Wallin & Klarich, our knowledgeable DUI attorneys have over 35 years of experience successfully defending clients charged with DUI in California. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Los Angeles, West Covina, Torrance and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich DUI attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us now at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.