What Driving Means in an Anne Arundel DUI Case
Sometimes, a person will be charged with a DUI even if they were not operating the car at the time they were arrested. In order for someone to be charged with a DUI in Anne Arundel, they must be in physical control of the vehicle. However, because Maryland also employs the Shelter Doctrine, it is possible for that person to get acquitted of the charge. An experienced Anne Arundel DUI attorney will be able to construct the best defense possible for your unique case, and work towards an acquittal or dropping of the charges depending on the circumstances of the charges.
Definition of Driving as it Applies to DUI Cases
Driving in Anne Arundel County means being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle. That means being able to put the vehicle in motion if desired – it can even include sleeping in the driver’s seat with keys in the ignition and the engine running.
There is no one single definition of what it means to be in actual physical control of the vehicle. It has been defined over time by common law through a series of Court cases.
The Shelter Doctrine
Maryland uses something called The Shelter Doctrine, which states that you can use your vehicle for shelter even if you are intoxicated. For example, you can walk out of the bar, decide that you are far too drunk to drive, go to sleep in your vehicle, turn it on to stay warm, and not get a DUI. You may be charged, but you also may be acquitted of DUI.
If, however, you moved the vehicle and then decided that you are too impaired to drive, The Shelter Doctrine no longer applies. Even if you decide you are too intoxicated to drive, pull over, and go to sleep on the side of the road, you can very easily get a DUI even if the officer never saw you drive.
The Anne Arundel County police can charge anyone with a DUI. The question falls on the State as to whether or not a conviction can be obtained for said DUI. If there’s insufficient evidence to prove driving, then a DUI conviction cannot happen, because the State needs to prove driving as an element of a DUI or DWI case. Without proving driving, there is no case.
Where Someone Could be Arrested in Anne Arundel
You can be arrested for a DUI in a parking lot. In fact, you can be arrested for DUI on any road used by the public in Maryland. It does not need to be a public highway.
DUIs that originate in someone’s personal driveway are a little bit trickier, and those issues will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Usually, the State will try to prove that driving had to have occurred on the roadway to get to the driveway. In Maryland, nine times out of ten, cases in which an individual’s car started in the driveway and they just used the vehicle to sleep in are going to be cases where no driving was involved. They are not extremely common, but they do occur in Anne Arundel County.
Police officers working the night shift will often patrol bar parking lots around closing time looking for DUIs. They typically go where people are likely to be drunk driving and specifically search out potential DUIs.
What the Prosecution Needs to Prove
The burden of proof that falls with the prosecution is always proving that driving occurred in a driving under the influence or driving impaired case, which is one of the required elements of the charge. This provision can be contested particularly for the situations in which individuals are just using the vehicle for shelter or there is insufficient evidence that the individual actually was driving.
Cases where there are car accidents in which no one observed the actual driving behavior are often contested DUI cases in Anne Arundel County.