You know you should never “get behind the wheel” if you’ve been drinking, but you probably don’t take that phase quite so literally as to mean, “don’t even go sit in your car at your own home, in your own driveway.” Well, you should. Each state is different, but overall, DUI laws are very harsh and often arbitrary. If you haven’t had a problem yet, don’t tempt fate by getting in your vehicle for any reason when you’ve been drinking. If you were arrested for DUI, in your own driveway or someone else’s, talk to an experienced DUI lawyer right away. There may still be a chance that you can get the charges dismissed or reduced, depending on where you live and your unique circumstances.
Michigan Supreme Court Ruling
In April 2017, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the state’s operating while intoxicated (OWI) law applies to residential driveways. The case was People of Michigan vs. Gino Robert Rea and originated with a 2014 arrest. Two lower courts had ruled in favor of Rea, but now his case will move forward.
To be clear, Rea was driving, not just sitting in the car. He pulled out of his garage and back into it. The ruling hinged on the court’s interpretation of the words, “generally accessible to motor vehicles,” which the majority decided applied to Mr. Rea’s driveway. There were two dissents.
DUI in Parked Cars
Michigan is not the only state where this kind of thing can happen. It is not unusual for people to be charged with DUI in a parked vehicle, even if the car isn’t running, the keys are not in the ignition, and the “driver” is in the back seat. The most common scenario being the drunk person who decides to sleep it off in his car instead of driving home drunk.
Yes, the practice is counterproductive to public safety, which is supposed to be the purpose of DUI laws. Unfortunately, DUI convictions and even just charges, can be very profitable for government entities and third-party contractors.
If you are facing DUI charges, please contact an experienced DUI attorney right away.