Driving under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is a commonly charged crime. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, there were 203,866 arrests for suspicion of driving under the influence in California in 2007. Seventy-five percent of those arrested were charged with and convicted of DUI.
It is easy to have a bit too much to drink, leading to a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) over the legal limit of 0.08 percent. However, given that so many people do drink and drive, or use various drugs, it would seem that prosecutors would have higher priorities than going after people who may be under the influence but do not drive their cars.
California Man Gets DUI When Not Driving
Sometimes, however, prosecutors press such cases. If they do that in your case, talk with a California DUI defense lawyer about how to defend your rights.
Here is an example of how far California DUI laws can reach. A man drove to his friend's house to meet the friend but arrived there before his friend was home. The man sat in his truck to wait for his friend to arrive and while he waited he smoked some marijuana. The friend's neighbor saw the man smoking marijuana and called the police.
Police came to the scene and the man eventually was charged with DUI, even though he was merely sitting in his truck - not driving. The fact that he had a prescription for the marijuana only prevented him from facing drug possession charges on top of the DUI charges.
California DUI Laws
It seems like an odd result, to allow police to arrest people who are not driving for suspicion of DUI, despite the fact that the law specifically says "driving." To be sure, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol in California. But the California Supreme Court has said that driving requires some "volitional movement of the vehicle."
However, even if a police officer does not see a vehicle moving, the officer can look for circumstantial evidence that a driver had been driving recently, such as a running or warm car engine or the driver sitting behind the wheel with the keys in the ignition.
Thus, a person who decides he or she is too intoxicated to drive safely and decides to sleep in his or her car but makes the mistake of starting the engine to run the heater to keep warm while asleep could conceivably have to face DUI charges - even though he or she tried to be responsible and not drive while intoxicated.
California authorities prosecute DUI charges vigorously. Sometimes even those who were not driving find themselves being prosecuted. If you are facing DUI charges contact an experienced attorney who can protect your rights.