Can I get a DUI just for sitting in my car?

Can I get a DUI just for sitting in my car?


Dear Attorney Baron,

I am a little embarrassed to share my husband's quirky habit. To let off steam, he likes to sit in our car to drink beer and listen to music.  My friends tell me he can be arrested for drunk driving. How is that even possible?


Dear Stacey,

Although great strides have been made by groups like M.A.D.D., drunk driving continues to be a problem in Connecticut. As a result laws governing drunk driving have become increasingly stricter. Your friends are correct. There are some scenarios where it is actually possible to get arrested for DUI simply for sitting in your car. For example, if your keys are in the ignition and your blood alcohol content is over .08, it is conceivable you can be arrested for driving under the influence. If a person is sitting behind the wheel of a car with the keys in the ignition, it is reasonable to assume that the person can and will drive the car in the immediate future. When police or other witnesses have seen this person acting as if they were under the influence, police have the right to stop this person from driving. Under the meaning of Connecticut statutes, a person operates a motor vehicle when he or she intentionally does any act or makes use of any mechanical or electrical agency, which can set in motion the motive power of your vehicle. The court reasons that once you stick your keys in the ignition, you have taken a significant step to get your car going. In a famous 2005 case, an intoxicated Andover man started his car with a remote and then sat in the driver's seat. It didn't matter that he did not actually move the car. He was still convicted.  

I hope I answered your question.  Thank you for taking the time to write.

Attorney Adrian Baron is a partner in the Connecticut law office of Podorowsky Thompson & Baron. An award winning legal writer, Adrian was recently named to the 2012 Superlawyer New England Rising Star list, a distinction given to only 2.5 attorneys in the state. This blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Always consult an attorney before proceeding. To learn more about Attorney Baron, you can visit him on the web at hardwarecitylaw.com or email him at patch@ptblegal.com

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