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Avoiding a DUI in California by not driving? Not so fast.


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11/17/2008
Anders Johnson
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It's 2 a.m. in the morning, and you have been out and about in San Francisco, and it's time to drive home to the Marina District.  You know you have had too much to drink, but you get in your car anyway.  You drive one block and are in a residential area.  You stop your car, turn the engine off, and fall asleep.

Later an officer taps on your window, and begins the DUI stop procedures.  You are arrested for DUI.  But you weren't driving.  Can you get out of a DUI conviction?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

You may not know this, but you can be convicted of a DUI even if you aren't operating, moving or driving a motor vehicle.  The issue is whether you have control of the vehicle.  This comes into play if you have the car keys, either in the ignition or within reach.  In addition, you are in control if you are in the driver's seat.  More obvious signs are a running engine, or stopped in traffic, asleep, or having been observed by a police officer driving.

Other circumstances are less obvious.  Sitting on your car hood or fender.  Sleeping in the back seat.  Again the issue is control.  You do not need to be seen driving by an officer.

What it all comes down to is the issue of driving and control - a fact issue.  A good San Francisco DUI attorney can help to sort through the facts and the law, and fight to throw out the charge.  It's never cut and dried.

Category: DUI and DWI Laws For California


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