Everyone knows drunk driving can land them into some serious trouble with the law, but not everyone is perfectly aware of what exactly defines drunk driving. Depending on which state a person resides in, there are different factors which contribute to what actually counts as drunk driving or driving under the influence.
There are three main phrases which are used in courts to describe drunk driving:
- Being in physical control of the vehicle while intoxicated
- Driving the vehicle while intoxicated
- Operating the vehicle while intoxicated
The above three phrases may sound the same, but when it comes to how they are seen through a legal perspective, they are actually quite different. Driving is more limited and generally means that the driver was behind the wheel while the car was in motion. Operating a vehicle, on the other hand, is a lot broader in its definition and it basically includes a person being in the vehicle and handling any of its functions (such as turning on the engine) even if the vehicle was not physically moving.
So to sum it up philosophically, a person can operate a vehicle without driving it, but they cannot drive a vehicle without operating it. If a person is found guilty of any of the above three points they can be charged for DUI.
What does the law define as drunk driving in San Diego, California?
According to the Uniform Vehicle Code @11-902(a) (1968), a driver must ‘drive or be in actual physical control’ of the vehicle while intoxicated to be charged for drunk driving. However, once again, depending on the jurisdiction a person resides in the meaning of this can be taken in multiple ways even though this code has been accepted in most states.
The severity of the consequences a person can be subjected to by the court depends on how obviously they had been intoxicated and how much damage they managed to do while they were DUI.
What other factors will be considered to determine if I was actually driving under the influence?
Various courts will use different criteria to determine if a person really was DUI or not. Some of the factors include:
- Whether the vehicle was on or off
- Where the defendant was sitting in the vehicle
- Whether the defendant was parked or trying to move the vehicle
- Whether the defendant was awake or asleep
- Whether it was night time or day time
- Where the keys were positioned at the time of the arrest
The above factors are often used to determine whether a person will be penalized or not and how severe their penalty will be.