A driver who drives his or her vehicle after having consumed enough alcohol to raise his or her blood alcohol content to levels above the legal limit can reasonably expect to be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) if stopped by the police. However, a driver who may fall asleep in his or her car, either accidentally or in an effort to sober up after having too much to drink, may be surprised to learn that he or she may still be criminally charged for driving while intoxicated, even if the car is not moving.
The law in New York State prohibits a person’s operation of a vehicle while the person is impaired or intoxicated by alcohol. When people think of “operating a vehicle” they may think of actually driving a car from place to place. New York law, however, also defines a driver as a person who is behind the wheel for the purpose of placing the vehicle in motion when the engine is running, even if the car is not moving. A driver who has had too much to drink and decides to pull over and sleep it off, leaving the keys in the ignition in order to keep the car warm, may be found to be operating the vehicle for the purposes of New York’s DWI law.
Even if a person is not found to be “operating” the vehicle when the police arrive, however, the person might still be charged with DWI. This is so even though the prosecution has to prove that the driver charged with DWI was not only impaired or intoxicated, but that he was at the time he operated a vehicle. If the person is intoxicated, being located in an area away from bars and restaurants and a lack of empty beer or liquor bottles or cans nearby might indicate that the person was intoxicated at the time they drove to their present location. The presence of other people who might have driven the vehicle, the amount of time that has elapsed since the person drove and evidence that the person may have consumed alcohol after driving, in addition to other evidence, however, might make it difficult to prove the person was impaired or intoxicated at the time they operated.
There are also important considerations that must be taken into account that might affect how the person’s blood alcohol content, and intoxication level, may have changed between the time they were operating and the time they were confronted by police. A number of factors might lead to the conclusion that the person, though intoxicated when tested, was not impaired or intoxicated when they might have operated a vehicle.
Contact an Experienced Syracuse DWI Attorney
DWI is a complex area of the law. The consequences of a DWI conviction can be quite severe, including the loss of driving privileges, installation of an ignition interlock device in your car, paying thousands of dollars in fines and fees and getting a criminal record. Many lawyers dabble in this area of the law without a proper understanding of the issues involved. If you are facing New York State drunk driving charges, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney representing you. Hire an attorney who knows this area of the law and has a proven track record of successfully defending DWI cases. Contact experienced Syracuse criminal defense attorney George F. Hildebrandt for a consultation today.