Can I be Convicted of a Los Angeles DUI if I was not Driving?

In order to be convicted of a Los Angeles DUI, the court must show that you are guilty of both elements beyond a reasonable doubt. One element that is crucial to a Los Angeles DUI is driving. California Vehicle Code §23152 states as follows:

“It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle” 

Note that it is not one element or the other that has to be proven in a DUI case, but both. You cannot be found guilty of a DUI if you are simply under the influence of an alcoholic beverage. Similarly, you cannot be found guilty of a DUI if you are simply driving. You must be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage and be driving a vehicle.  

Driving is not always a black and white argument. Oftentimes it is, because the driver will be driving when he is stopped by officers. However, that is not always the case. Sometimes the driver is pulled over by the side of the road, and prosecutors will prove to the court by providing circumstantial evidence that leads the jury to conclude that the person must have been driving.

Let’s consider an example to understand the concept. David is asleep in his car, in the driver’s seat, pulled over on the side of the freeway. These facts may be a gray area in which prosecutors still have to make an argument, however, it may be a weak argument for the driver. Prosecutors will argue that he was alone in the car, and on the side of the freeway. He had to get there somehow, and it may be that he drove himself there. And if he drove himself there, he must have been intoxicated at the time he drove himself.

The driver may argue that a friend was in the car, but the friend left, and the friend was the one that was driving. This will be weak in comparison to the fact that the driver was in the driver’s seat.  The driver may argue that he was not drinking at the time he drove the car there, and that he was sober. He had car trouble and waiting for someone to help him, he started to drink. Again, this does not seem like a strong argument, but it is one that the driver may make. Because the issue of driving is such a gray area in circumstances where the person being charged is not pulled over while driving, it is a good idea to make a strong argument.

Consulting with an experienced Los Angeles DUI Lawyer will help assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case. It will also help prepare a strong argument of defenses to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.