What to do if I was arrested for DUI and was not driving but I was standing next to a running vehicle when the police pulled up?

I admitted to drinking and undwent a blood alcohol test and was well over limit. Should I fight this and go to trial?

Asked on February 18, 2013 under Criminal Law, Illinois

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

It depends on the other evidence against you.  If there is absolutely no evidence that you were operating the vehicle, then, yes, you should fight the charge because there is a good chance you could win. 

However, before you make this decision, request discovery in your case and know all the evidence against you.  The prosecutor can offer other circumstantial evidence against you to show that you were operating the vehicle.  For example, if the vehicle was on a vacant country road, you were the only person present, the engine was warm, and you asked that the keys to the car be placed in your property bag-- then they would have a fairly decent case of you operating a vehicle while you were intoxicated.  Keep in mind that most people get hung up on the term driving versus operating.  Most courts will hold that turning on the car, even it is never put in motion, is still operating the vehicle----- despite the fact that the title of the charge is driving under the influence. 

If there were no facts to show that you operated the vehicle then fight the charge.  Facts that could help you would include:  it wasn't your car, multiple people were around the car, you have never been involved with this car, or the driver is willing to show up and testify that they had turned on the engine.

If you do decide to fight this charge, strongly consider hiring a criminal defense attorney to help you.  They can help insure that only admissible evidence is used against you during this process.


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