Driving under the influence (DUI) cases can be highly complex and confusing to anyone without a law degree. For DUI charges, “driving” does not necessarily mean the person facing charges was driving their vehicle. The law considers any motor vehicle operation by a person who is drunk as driving under the influence.
Contact a DUI attorney with solid knowledge of cases like yours if you face charges. The better understanding you have of defining driving in Charleston DUI cases, the better chance you have at a positive outcome at trial.
DUI Arrests When the Accused was Not on a Road
When most people think of a DUI, they think of a motorist swerving or speeding on a roadway. However, many DUI arrests occur on private property. These detentions may occur if officers know a person will leave the establishment and are possibly under the influence or is operating the vehicle in a parking lot, for example.
They may watch these places and wait for drivers to get in their vehicles. If an officer arrests a person in this situation, the accused could form a valid defense. A qualified attorney knowledgeable of DUI cases in Charleston could help build a solid defense, even if someone was not driving their vehicle on a road.
Operating a Vehicle while Under the Influence in Charleston
Under South Carolina Code Annotated Section 56-5-2930, the law considers someone to be committing a DUI when they are driving a motor vehicle while under the influence to the extent that their ability to drive that vehicle is materially and appreciably impaired by drugs or alcohol. Additionally, if an officer believes the driver is under the influence of any kind of drug or alcohol, they can arrest them and request the driver to submit to breath, blood, or urine testing.
As per the statute above, an allegedly intoxicated motorist sitting in their vehicle could lead to arrest. If an officer approaches them for being under the suspicion of a DUI, they may have a valid defense against the charges. However, there are many DUI cases where the arresting officer does not actually see the individual driving the vehicle. An attorney familiar with thorough criminal investigation and the definition of “driving” in a Charleston DUI arrest could help build a solid defense depending on the particular facts of your case.
Elements The Prosecution Must Prove to the Court
The prosecution must establish that the defendant was in the driver’s seat of the vehicle when it was moving to establish the “driving” requirement of a DUI. If a Charleston officer approaches a car and the allegedly drunk person is sitting in the driver seat with the keys in the ignition, they could say the driver was operating the vehicle and arrest that individual without any additional evidence.
However, to obtain a conviction, the prosecutor subsequently must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the motorist drove the car when under the influence. The burden of proof is always the government’s responsibility and not the defendant’s. If the government does not provide sufficient evidence of guilt, the defendant should be found not guilty at trial.
Meet with an Attorney about Defining DUI Case in Charleston
If you are convicted of driving while under the influence, you could face severe consequences. If an officer detains you while on private property, you could have a defense to beat the charges. In any case, a seasoned legal professional could advocate on your behalf and fight for you in and outside of the courtroom.
A skilled attorney could work with the prosecutor to reduce or, in some cases, even dismiss your charges. Contact a qualified lawyer with experience with defining driving in Charleston DUI cases if you face these consequential charges. Call today to begin strategizing your defense right away.