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Dale City Element of Driving in a DUI Case

In Virginia, under the DUI statute, a person has to be operating a motor vehicle in order to receive a DUI. However, somebody could technically not be driving but still be considered to be operating a motor vehicle.

In Virginia, case law in part defines operating a motor vehicle as having the keys in the ignition with one of the mechanical devices in operation, even just the lights or radio. This can occur even if an individual is in a parking lot or in their own driveway.

Due to the complexity of defining the element of driving in a Dale City DUI case, it is crucial that an individual contact a Dale City DUI attorney to best defend against this offense.

Operating a Motor Vehicle in Virginia

Dale City is still subject to the Virginia State Code which means that they are subject to operating a motor vehicle and the definitions that come along with the element of driving in a DUI case. The Virginia Supreme Court and various other courts in Virginia have determined that the definitions of operating a motor vehicle in the State of Virginia include the keys being in the ignition. However, the car does not necessarily have to be running.

People can be arrested in driveways and in parking lots if their keys are in the ignition even if the car is not running. Law enforcement officers sometimes patrol parking lots near popular bars and restaurants in Dale City.

Contesting the Charge

Law enforcement does not have to prove the element of driving in a Dale City DUI case. They have to prove operating a motor vehicle, which is almost always contested. It is rare that somebody would allow the prosecution a pass on failing to prove driving or operating the motor vehicle.

Usually, defense attorneys do contest whether or not somebody’s operating the motor vehicle. It is sometimes obvious that someone was operating a motor vehicle but it is still typically contested.

Determining Fault

If there is probable cause to believe that the passenger was actually the driver and the passenger was intoxicated while they were operating the motor vehicle, then they can be charged with the DUI.

Driving Without a License

The implications of driving without a license in a Dale City DUI case depend on why a person does not have a license to begin with. A person will certainly be charged with a separate offense to their DUI if this is the case. If, for example, the individual’s license was already suspended or revoked pursuant to an older DUI, a person will have a serious misdemeanor offense of driving on a revoked license pursuant to the DUI statutes.

If a person does not have their license with them, that is a separate statute. It is much less serious but it still considered a criminal offense. If a person is suspended due to fines, that still is a separate statute and that would actually be something that a person might be able to fight depending on notice. This depends on why the individual’s license was suspended or why a person did not have the license at that time.

Aggravating Factors

Not having a license can be an aggravating factor in a Dale City DUI case. Whether an individual is facing one or multiple misdemeanors can certainly impact the severity of the charge. Although it may not alter the eventual outcome, it can make the facts of the case worse.

Suspended License

If a person is charged with a DUI while driving on a suspended license, they will be charged with a new offense of a DUI and the new offense of driving on a suspended license.

The person would be charged with a Dale City DUI and then driving with a revoked license pursuant to the DUI statute. The person would still be charged with two offenses.

Both the unlicensed driving and DUI charges are heard at the same time.

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