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Element of Driving in a Darien DUI Case

To describe the element of driving in a Darien DUI case, Connecticut statutes state that any operation that sets the vehicle into motion defines the act. If a person is sitting in their car and turns it on, that counts as operating the vehicle under the Connecticut statute, even if the car is not in gear.

Many times, attorneys will see people pulling over to sleep off their intoxication, or wait it out in a parking lot. However, if these individuals were to turn their car on and they are in the driver’s seat, they could be charged with a Darien DUI.

If you have been charged with a DUI in Darien while sitting in your vehicle, but not technically moving the vehicle in any direction, it is imperative that you consult with a knowledgeable DUI attorney as soon as possible. An experienced lawyer can help defend against the element of driving in a Darien DUI case, and assist in reducing any penalties you may be facing.

Determining the Driver

It is rare that Darien law enforcement officers would not immediately be able to determine who was driving the car when issuing a Darien DUI.  In most cases, there is a person sitting in the operator’s seat. 

If it is not clear who was operating the vehicle, such as after an accident where people have left the scene, then the officers will typically continue to investigate until they can determine who was driving the vehicle.

Arrest Process

Arresting an individual for a DUI while driving a car in Darien happens fairly often. These arrests normally occur in any public space. This could be in a parking lot, the driveway of a store, or any other public space that an individual could operate a vehicle in.

Law enforcement officers mostly see these charges being brought about in either two ways. The first is as a result of an accident. The police are called to the scene after an accident and end up making a DUI arrest.

If the person commits a minor motor vehicle infraction, often something like going over the yellow line or forgetting to turn the headlights on, the officer may have enough probable cause to pull the individual over. It is at this point that that officer will realize that the individual is under the influence, and may serve them a Darien DUI charge for driving their vehicle while intoxicated.

Burden of Proof

When proving the element of driving in a Darien DUI case, the prosecution has to prove that the key was in the ignition, and that it was in the on position. People can often contest the charge by either stating that the key was not in the ignition, or that they were not the driver of the vehicle in Darien.

However, in Darien, police officers are usually careful about charging the person that was actually operating the vehicle. If they are not sure, they may not even bring forward a case because they know that they may not be able to prove it.

Driving Without a License

Driving without a license is an infraction that is typically given in addition to a DUI. It is not technically an aggravating factor to the charge, but something separate that the prosecutor will make note of. Sometimes, if the defense is looking to get their client into an alcohol education program or non-jail disposition, the prosecution will focus on the fact that the individual, along with a DUI, was driving without a license.

Suspended vs. Unlicensed Driver

Someone may be better off in trial if they are an unlicensed driver. This is because, if their license or right to drive in Connecticut is suspended because of a DUI, their charge is much more serious.

Such a charge is classified as a misdemeanor, but comes with a mandatory minimum jail time of 30 days. It is often hard to get out of the mandatory minimum jail time, and is a charge that could be easy for the state to prove if they can prove an individual was driving with a suspended license because of a DUI.

“Right to Drive” Clause

If, for example, someone has a New York license, Connecticut cannot suspend their license in New York because they do not have the jurisdiction to do that. However, Connecticut does have the power to suspend an individual’s license in their state. This would suspend their right to drive without actually suspending their physical driver’s license.