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You Don’t Have to Be Driving to Be Convicted of Connecticut DUI

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A ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court means that you don’t have to actually be driving to be convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in Connecticut.  The Supreme Court’s ruling, which was 5-0 in the case of Michael Cyr, showed that drunk drivers do not have to be driving their cars to be charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Michael Cyr had been arrested in Manchester in February 2005 after he was found in a parking lot near a bar.  Cyr had started his vehicle remotely and then sat in the driver’s seat intoxicated.  However, he never put the key in the ignition and did not drive anywhere.

The Appellate Court had thrown out Cyr’s conviction, but Supreme Court Justices have ordered to court to reinstate it and send the case back to Manchester Superior Court for sentencing.

Cyr, a 50-year-old Andover resident, faces a jail sentence of up to one year followed by a three year probation period.  This DUI offense would make it Cyr’s third DUI conviction, as he had prior convictions in 1997 and 1998.

According to Chief Justice Chase Rogers, “In starting the engine of his vehicle remotely then getting behind the steering wheel, the defendant clearly undertook the first act in a sequence of steps necessary to set in motion the motive power of a vehicle.”

The phrase, “motive power,” comes from a 1939 Connecticut court decision, which defined what constitutes “operating” a motor vehicle.

Cyr’s case is one in many that have raised questions concerning the definition of operating a motor vehicle under Connecticut’s drunk driving laws.

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