Definition of Driving in Birmingham DUI Cases
In Alabama, a prosecution is allowed for a DUI if the prosecution of the driving case can show that the individual being charged was either driving a motor vehicle on any public roadway or even private property. It is also illegal in Birmingham and throughout the state if one is in actual physical control. Actual physical control covers certain situations where one might not actually be driving down the roadway but rather behind the wheel in a parked vehicle or a wrecked vehicle.
If you are being charged with a driving under the influence in Birmingham, an experienced DUI lawyer can help you create a solid defense for your future. A Birmingham DUI lawyer has the understanding of local laws and a strong understanding of definitions involving driving in Birmingham DUI cases that are necessary to navigate your case with precision.
Totality of the Circumstances
In Birmingham, if the state or city government is not able to prove actual driving, then the only way that it could prosecute the case would be in actual physical control. Long ago, actual physical control was determined by a three-part test including, number one, was the individual behind the wheel, number two, was the key in the ignition, and, number three, was the vehicle operable at the time.
Certainly, if someone either does not have the keys in the ignition or is asleep in the backseat or the passenger’s seat, an argument could be made that they were not in actual physical control and therefore no DUI charge takes effect.
If it is not clear who was driving, the government would have to make an allegation as to the identity of the driver, and that is something that would be challenged in court. Certainly, if there are multiple people at the scene of an accident or in a vehicle and the officer does not clearly see one person driving or in actual physical control, that is a question of fact that would have to be sorted out in court and the state would have to prove the driver’s identity beyond a reasonable doubt.
In Alabama, an individual can technically be charged with a DUI anywhere in the state, even on private property. That would include parking lots, and driveways. However, the implied consent law is only applicable on public roadways.
Therefore, the breath test usually will be suppressible, meaning not being able to be introduced against the individual in court, if they are arrested for impaired driving on private party unless the police agency has a search warrant or a written valid consent but, a lot of times, private property DUIs are much more difficult to prosecute in court.
In Birmingham, there are quite a few DUI arrests that take place in areas other than the roads such as private property. Normally, it is somebody passed out in a parking lot or on the side of the road, on the shoulder of the road, but there are quite a few DUI arrests where the person is not actually driving but rather passed out or asleep in their vehicle in a parking lot.
Prosecution vs. Defense
The prosecution must prove that the defendant was either driving and that, again, is its normal definition according to the court and that would be a question or fact for the jury or the judge to either agree with or disagree with. However, if it is an actual physical control case, then the state or government must come in and prove the totality of the circumstances that the person had the present ability to operate the vehicle. This means the court will look at factors such as whether or not the person was behind the wheel if the key was in the ignition, and if the vehicle was operable at the time.
Certainly, those areas and factors of the DUI case can be contested by the defense. There are impaired driving cases where the car battery is dead or the tires are flat and have been successfully argued that the person did not have the present ability to operate a motor vehicle. Therefore, there was no actual physical control of the vehicle. The same can be argued if somebody is passed out and they have to be woken by law enforcement, they obviously did not have the present ability to control or operate the motor vehicle. Those are just the few ways to contest the allegation of somebody being in actual physical control of their vehicle.
Birmingham DUI Cases
The majority of the cases dealing with DUI arrests take place with somebody being in a parking lot are normally based on a citizen complaint. Individual’s facing these charges should contact a DUI attorney in order to stay safe and get a better understanding of what is considered driving in DUI cases, as defined by Birmingham law.