Can a minor who is outside by a bonfire and not driving but under the influence of alcohol, be charged with DUI?

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Can a minor who is outside by a bonfire and not driving but under the influence of alcohol, be charged with DUI?

What should the charge be? My little sister was charged with a DUI even though she was not operating a vehicle but standing by a fire. I want to know legally how to help her fight this.

Asked on October 13, 2015 under Criminal Law, South Carolina

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

 You didn't give much by way of details but, as a general rule, if the prosecutor has circumstantial evidence that a person had been operating a motor vehicle this may be sufficient to meet their burden of proof. This is true even if there is no eyewitness testimony that the person was actually driving at the time. Examples would include the location of the vehicle, whether the vehicle was running, whether the vehicle had signs of obvious recent use the keys in the ignition, warm engine, etc., if the driver made incriminating statements, etc. However, circumstantial cases are typically not has strong as cases with more direct evidence, although they may still be enough for a conviction.
At this point, your sister should consult directly with a criminal law attorney who specializes in DUI cases they can best advise her further. If she is eligible, the court may appoint a public defender to represent her.


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