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Definition of Driving in a Henrico DUI Case

In Henrico County it is possible for someone to get a DUI even if they were not driving, so long as they are in fact in their vehicle and the vehicle is operational. In other words, if someone is sitting in the car at a park, but the lights are on, or the keys are in the ignition and the radio is on, or the AC is on, then they can be charged with a DUI.

What is Driving?

Driving is considered operating a vehicle on the roadways of Virginia or the roadways of Henrico County, on either a private street or a public highway. Operation of the vehicle, however, could simply mean being parked on the side of the road with the keys in the ignition.

People will actually be arrested for a DUI for simply sitting in a parking lot. It is fairly common to see individuals who realize they have had too much to drink pull off to the side of the road in hopes of avoiding a DUI. But if they encounter police, they can still be arrested for a DUI.

In fact, officers will sometimes patrol near restaurants and bars looking for people who are sleeping in vehicles, and things such as that.

Proving Driving

The prosecution doesn’t always have to show that someone charged with a DUI was driving on the roadways, they can simply show operation. In other words, they may only need to show that the driver had the keys in the ignition, or just barely had the lights on. This issue can be challenged, if it is a situation where someone is parked and the keys are not in the ignition and/or if someone is stopped when they are outside of the vehicle.

Charging a Passenger With a DUI

If it is not clear who is driving, a passenger can in fact be charged with a DUI. Sometimes officers do this in order to encourage one of the individuals to step forward and acknowledge that they were driving. The burden of proof still falls on the state to prove who was operating or driving the vehicle at that time. While a passenger may be charged, it becomes much harder to get a conviction against them if it is unclear who was driving.

DUI While Driving Without a License

If someone gets a DUI while driving without a license, it obviously becomes a much more aggravated offense. Of course, it depends on what the status of their license is. If someone is driving while suspended, it becomes an aggravated case. If someone is driving while suspended for a DUI, it becomes a much more aggravated case.

Typically in Henrico County they will charge someone both with the suspended, but also with DUI while suspended. Officers will typically charge as many charges as possible. If the license was suspended for a DUI, the prosecution will also take a much more active stance in seeking an active jail sentence.

Whether or not it is a separate DUI related charge or simply a traffic charge in addition to the DUI, will depend on why someone is without a license. If the driver is simply suspended for not paying costs and/or fines or they haven’t renewed their license, then it would be a separate charge. However, if their license was suspended for a prior DUI then it becomes a part of the charge.

Regardless, both of these charges would be heard at the same time as they were part of the same traffic stop.

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