Many of our clients are suspected for a DUI even when they are in a vehicle that is pulled over or not being driven. If the government cannot prove that a person was driving the car under the influence of alcohol, the case may be dismissed.
A crucial element that must be present in any DUI case is the fact that the person charged was in fact driving the vehicle. This must be proven without a reasonable doubt before anyone can be convicted and sentenced for a DUI in Los Angeles. When a person is found in a vehicle that is parked, prosecution relies on surrounding circumstances and facts to prove that the person was in fact driving.
Several different facts will be taken into account. One of the things they will consider is where was the car parked? Was it in the parking lot of the venue, was it on the side of the freeway, was it in front of a friend’s house? If the car is at the venue, or at a friend’s house and hasn’t moved, there is a stronger argument that the driver had not driven the car anywhere. In comparison, if the car is on the side of the freeway, the government has a strong argument that the person drove the car there, and then decided to pull over.
They will also ask where the keys to the vehicle are. If the person has them in their pocket, it implies that they were the driver. Similarly, if the keys are in the ignition, then there is still a stronger case that the car had recently been driving. In contrast, if the person doesn’t have the keys, then they might not be the driver at all, and perhaps someone else had been driving the car and was no longer with the vehicle.
Officers will also note where the person was sitting in the car. Were they in the passenger seat or in the driver’s seat? Were they sleeping in the back seat? In addition to these factors, there will also be a mention of how hot the engine was to determine when it had most recently been driven.
One of the crucial elements to a Los Angeles DUI case is that the person charged was driving a vehicle while intoxicated. The strongest case is one in which the officer observes the person driving, but that is not to say that someone who is not observed driving cannot be charged with a DUI. If the person is not observed by the officer, circumstantial evidence may still lead to the conclusion that the person charged had been driving while intoxicated at some point prior to the arrest.
If the case is based on facts, and not the direct observation of the officer, there is a lot of room for subjectivity and argument. An experienced Los Angeles DUI Attorney has handled thousands of cases similar to these. Their experience and knowledge can prepare a strong argument and defense so that the charges may ultimately be reduced or dropped altogether.