What Constitutes Driving a Vehicle In Your Orange County DUI Case?
In order to be convicted of a DUI in Orange County, the prosecutor must prove that you “drove” a “motor vehicle.” The prosecutor will typically have no difficulty proving driving if the arresting officer saw you operating a motor vehicle on a road or highway. Even if the officer did not actually see you driving, driving can be proven by circumstantial evidence, such as proof that you were found in the driver’s seat and that the engine was warm.
Does anything other than moving the vehicle constitute driving? Suppose the arresting officer finds someone asleep in the driver’s seat of a parked vehicle with the keys in the ignition. In some states, this would be enough. In these states, a defendant can be convicted of DUI on proof that he or she had physical control of the vehicle, which typically means the immediate ability to drive it. But the law is different in California.
According to the California Supreme Court in the case of Mercer v. DMV (1991) 53 Cal.3d 753, “drive” for the purpose of the drunk driving statutes, requires volitional movement of the vehicle. That is to say, the mere actual physical control of the motor vehicle is not enough to constitute driving in California. In the Mercer case, the defendant was asleep behind the wheel with the engine running, though the transmission was not in gear. On being awakened by the officer, the defendant began shifting gears on the manual transmission as if he was already driving or about ready to drive. The Court concluded that the defendant did not drive.
A motor vehicle
A “vehicle” is a device by which a person or property may be moved on a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks. That is – the general rule is that any device with a motor that has been designed to be driven on highways is considered a vehicle.
Get Help With Your Orange County DUI Case
An effective DUI defense requires an attorney with extensive experience and a thorough understanding of DUI law and DMV hearings to keep you out of jail and your driver’s license active. At Coffey & Coffey we have the knowledge, experience, and resources to challenge the state prosecutors who are trying to put you in jail. For a free consultation, please contact the dedicated Orange County DUI attorneys at Coffey and Coffey by phoning (800) 706-7888 today.