Woman standing in her driveway getting into car

DUI While Standing in Your Driveway?

Whenever people think of arrests in a drink and drive case, they tend to imagine overspeeding cars on the highways, accidents, DUI checkpoints and police interrogating drunk drivers.

All these instances occur in public spaces like highways and bylanes where it is expected to see police patrolling, keeping a check on drivers and where the risk of causing harm to other people and drivers is much high.

Most of the people think that if they manage to get home without being pulled away by a cop for drunken driving, they cannot be charged with DUI (Driving Under Influence). Or simply put, a person might think that they cannot be held for DUI if they never leave their property. What people should take note is that this is not the case. As per a judgment passed by the Supreme Court in Michigan, a person behind the wheel can be prosecuted if he or she is found intoxicated in his/her driveway.

If a person is booked with these charges, he has to be arraigned and asked to enter a plea. Sometimes a bail bond might also be set at the time of arraignment. This money is not just used by the defendant to get out of jail but is rather a pledge to return to the court if the court summons to see him.

What is a DUI offense?

In the United States, it is a crime for a person to operate a vehicle when he is impaired after the intake of alcohol or drugs. This also includes driving under the effects of prescription medications. In most cases, even if the blood alcohol content is beyond permissible limits and there is evidence to show impairment, DUI attorneys and lawyers can work around to get the case dismissed or get the charges reduced significantly. They might also negotiate for a shorter sentence period and diversion programs.

If convicted a person will receive some or the other form of the criminal sentence (can include community service, a term in jail or fines) and his/her driver’s license can be suspended or revoked, majorly depending on the severity of the crime and whether it’s a first offense of this kind.

Drinking and driving on private property

The DUI laws often vary from one state to the other but as a general rule, the police have the right to question a person on his driving ability, and if he doesn’t satisfy the said criteria, the police can also arrest him on his private property. Here’s a list of private properties where police makes the most number of DUI arrests –

  • Driveways
  • Parking lots in stadiums, shopping centers, malls and convenience stores
  • Golf courses
  • Bars and their parking lots

Note that all these areas are privately owned. However, they are open to being used by public and not just the owners of these properties. Thus, these are semi-public regions, and all drivers are expected to follow the same standard.

But sometimes the difference between public and private property is not very clear, and this makes it difficult to enforce DUI laws. If the concerned property is privately owned by a person and has ‘No Trespassing’ signages, it is very unlikely for a police officer to be patrolling there, and a case of DUI may rule out in the person’s favor.

People who are found over the legally permissible limit are said to be operating while intoxicated (OWI) and they can be arrested at places which are commonly and easily accessible to others. There have been several cases when people thought that they were in a privately owned property like a driveway but according to state laws, it did constitute area which was easily accessible to others.

While all states have different laws to govern DUI cases, the police in each state have the right to pursue an investigation if they suspect that a driver is operating under the influence of alcohol and drugs no matter where his vehicle is located. If a person is driving under influence in an area that can be easily accessed by other motorists and people, then the chances are high that he will be booked for a DUI. Driveways and other private properties which mention that no outsider can enter might not be included for a DUI arrest.

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