What does possesion or control of a motor vehicle mean?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What does possesion or control of a motor vehicle mean?

I was given a citation for driving on suspension and for a violation od alcohol restricted driver, however at the time of the citation I wasn’t in my car. Granted the officer seen me driving, I parked and stated and my car for probably 4 or 5 minutes. With ignition off and keys in center console. I exited the car, and was just about to enter the covenant store, hand reached out to open the door when the cop stopped me. Can he site me without knowing when I had a drink. I was parked for 4 or 5 minutes he doesn’t know when I actual consumed alcohol. Be doesn’t know if I did after I was no longer driving.

Asked on June 19, 2019 under Criminal Law, Utah


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You were seen driving there; therefore, you were in possession and control of a motor vehicle, since you were operating it to get to where you were.
Yes, you can be cited without the officer knowing when you consummed, if in his judgment, you were impaired. It takes much less evidence--indeed, just the professional judgment of a trained officer--to initially charge. It takes more and stronger evidence ("beyond a reasonable doubt") to convict, so they would need to be able, based on a breathalyzer, or a blood test, or possibly the "manual" tests or intoxication (e.g. "walk a straight line"; "touch your fingers to your nose with eyes closed"; "balance on one leg"), or maybe compelling/convincing testimony from an officer's direct observations of your speech, conduct, and performance to convince a court that you were drunk at the time. Without some evidence of blood alcohol level, you'd have a reasonable chance of defending yourself.

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