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Fredericksburg DUI Definition of Driving

It is important to understand the definition of driving in the context of a Fredericksburg DUI charge. In Virginia, it does not need to be proven that the person was driving their vehicle for purposes of a DUI. Instead, it needs to be proven the person was operating a motor vehicle. While that may sound like the same thing, for purposes of Virginia law, it is quite different.

If you are facing charges of driving under the influence, an experienced DUI lawyer can help. A Fredericksburg DUI lawyer can help explain the definition of driving in the context of a Fredericksburg DUI charge and how local laws may apply to your case.

Operation of a Vehicle

If someone is charged with driving on a suspended license, the government has to prove that the person was doing what most people think of as driving, which is in their vehicle under control moving down the road. For impaired driving charges, the government has to prove that the person charged was operating a vehicle based on the definition of driving in the context of a Fredericksburg DUI charge.

While it includes driving, operating can also be sitting in the person’s vehicle with the engine idling at a stop or the gear shift in park. It also includes sitting in the driver’s seat of the motor vehicle with the engine off, if the keys are in the ignition.

Contesting Operation of a Motor Vehicle

To prove that a person is operating a motor vehicle, they are going to have to place that person in the driver seat and show that the vehicle was either turned on or that there were keys in the ignition, which can readily engage the motor of the vehicle.

There are a number of ways that operation can be contested based on the definition of driving in the context of a Fredericksburg DUI charge. One is to challenge whether anyone can place the defendant inside of the driver compartment of the vehicle. Some DUIs come out of accidents were police arrive on the scene only to find that there is no one inside of the vehicle.

Unless a person admits that they were the driver, there may not be anyone who can say with a certainty that they were the driver. In addition, sometimes it can be contested in a parked car situation whether the vehicle was actually on, or if the vehicle was off, whether the keys were in the ignition and the car could be readily turned on.

Driving on a Public Roadway

DUI law in Virginia applies to not only public highways, but it applies to operating a motor vehicle anywhere. The importance of the definition of driving in the context of a Fredericksburg DUI charge is that implied consent only applies to public highways. This means that the requirement to give a blood or breath sample or face a refusal charge will only be applicable if the person is operating a vehicle on public highways.

That does not mean the person cannot be convicted of a DUI if they are operating a motor vehicle somewhere else. It means that the government will not have the benefit of a certificate of analysis, which shows the person’s blood alcohol in the event that the person refuses to give that test.

When Arrests on Private Property Occur

The definition driving in the context of a Fredericksburg DUI is not typical, but it is something that can happen from time to time. For example, if a person is operating their motor vehicle or an ATV on private property while intoxicated and there is some kind of accident that emergency responders are called to, it is a scenario in which a DUI might possibly be charged. However, it is fairly unusual because officers are typically only patrolling the public highways.

Passenger DUI Charges

Sometimes the definition of driving in the context of a Fredericksburg DUI charge can be difficult to clarify. If it is unclear to the police who the operator of the motor vehicle was. If there is a scenario where there has been an accident and by the time the police arrive, there are multiple individuals outside of the vehicle and none acknowledge that they were the one operating it, police can sometimes engage in the tactic where they charge everyone present. This is done because of the idea that one of them must be the operator of the vehicle. What they are counting on is creating pressure among all those people for one to fess up and acknowledge that they were the person in fact who is operating.

Presence of Local Law Enforcement

Officers do patrol parking lots of bars and restaurants looking for DUIs in Fredericksburg. In fact, it is not unusual to see a person charged with the DUI who is sleeping in their vehicle with the motor turned on. Whether that person is going to be required to give a blood or breath test is going to revolve around whether the parking lot that the person was in is set up for vehicles to move through or traverse it.

For example, if someone has to sleep in the parking lot of a large mall or a Wal-Mart where there are marked lanes and lots of room for vehicles to move through, it is going to be considered a public highway and the person. There, the definition of driving in the context of a Fredericksburg DUI charges will be evident by the requirement to give a blood or a breath test.

On the other hand, if the person is parked in the parking lot of the gas station or someplace that is small and not designed for vehicles to move through, the person can still be charged with DUI, but they are not going to be required to give a breath test.

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