The Loose Court Terms: “Operating” a Vehicle Under the Influence

Avoid Conviction By Understanding DUI Laws In Arizona

Usually, if someone is arrested and charged with driving under the influence, they were pulled over while they were actually driving. But that’s not always the case. There are times that a person may be behind the wheel of a vehicle but not actually driving it. They may be passed out in the driver’s seat, or they may simply be sitting in the seat while the car is parked or even turned off. Sometimes, these people can still be charged with driving under the influence in Mesa

An experienced Mesa DUI defense attorney will understand the finer points of this law and how the courts will define the word “operating” when determining whether you are guilty of operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. That’s why it’s so important for you to work with a good Mesa DUI lawyer if you are charged with driving under the influence. These cases are not always black-and-white, and you need a strong advocate on your side who knows how to argue the finer points of the law in your favor. 

Arizona DUI Lawyer, Man lying on a steering wheel lying on a steering wheel, unable to drive a car.

Examples of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence

A recent court case showed just how easy it is for the term “operating” to come under scrutiny. In the case, a couple reported that their truck was missing and they believed that their son, who had gotten drunk earlier in the day, had taken it. The police found the truck later with the couple’s son inside, sleeping in the driver’s seat. The truck was turned off and the keys were not in the ignition, but the lights were turned on. The couple’s son told police that the keys were “where they’re supposed to be,” and the police could not find the keys. 

A court convicted the man of DUI, and that judgement was later upheld by an appeals court. The appeals court found that even though the keys were not in the ignition, the officers could reasonably infer that the man had driven the truck because he was in the seat and the truck had been moved. The man would not have been with the truck in a new location had he not driven it. Therefore, he could be ruled to have driven the truck and could be charged with driving under the influence. (A blood-alcohol test showed that his blood-alcohol content was nearly four times the legal limit.)

Conviction and Punishment

The man in the example case was charged more severe penalties because that conviction was not his first for driving under the influence. In Arizona, the consequences are compounded each time a person is convicted of DUI. It is essential that you work with a Phoenix DUI attorney if you are charged with driving under the influence to avoid a conviction. Any future convictions could be that much worse if you don’t.

There are other cases in which your DUI attorney in Phoenix may be able to argue against conviction based on whether you could be shown to have actually been operating the vehicle. For example, if you left a bar and got in your car but just passed out and never drove it, you may still be charged with DUI, but your attorney may be able to argue against your conviction. There are many circumstances like these that can be subjectively interpreted, and it is your attorney’s job to argue those facts in your favor to help you avoid conviction. 

Don’t let lack of understand of the law or intimidation by law enforcement officials scare you away from fighting your conviction. A good DUI attorney in Mesa can help you understand your legal rights and options. There are many ways that you may be able to avoid conviction or penalty, depending on the circumstances of your case. 

Call My AZ Lawyers today if you have been charged with driving under the influence. Our experienced and committed team of DUI defense attorneys are ready to help you explore all your legal options for avoiding conviction, whether this is your first DUI charge or your fourth. We’ll examine all the details of your case and help you understand what can be done to minimize your penalties or free you of the charges. We’ll fight to help you walk away with a clear record, whenever possible. Call us in Phoenix today to schedule a consultation with a DUI defense lawyer. 

Arizona Offices:

Mesa Location:
1731 West Baseline Rd., Suite #100
Mesa, AZ 85202

Office: (480) 448-9800

Glendale Location:
20325 N 51st Avenue Suite #134, Building 5
Glendale, AZ 85308

Office: (602) 509-0955

Tucson Location:
2 East Congress St., Suite #900-6A
Tucson, AZ 85701

Office: (520) 441-1450

Avondale Location:
12725 W. Indian School Rd., Ste E, #101
Avondale, AZ 85392

Office: (623) 469-6603

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