Why Was I Charged With A DUI In Pennsylvania When I Was Not Operating My Vehicle?

August 9, 2017By Brian Manchester

Have you or someone you know been arrested for Driving under the influence in Pennsylvania? When the charge of Driving under the Influence is charged this can have major impacts on you and your family’s lives and wellbeing. You must protect yourself by talking to an experienced law firm because the impact of a charge like this can affect you for the rest of your life. You can be charged in Pennsylvania for a DUI even if you have not moved your vehicle.

The Pennsylvania Driving Under the Influence law is as follows for General Impairment

(a) General impairment.–(1) An individual may not drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle after imbibing a sufficient amount of alcohol such that the individual is rendered incapable of safely driving, operating or being in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle

75 Pa. Stat. and Cons. Stat. Ann. § 3802

The problem with this statue that allows for police officers to charge you for DUI is the part that states actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle. What the Courts have determined this to mean is an individual was either in or around their vehicle with their keys allowing them to operate the vehicle. What this does is it leaves individuals will little choice when they are told to leave an establishment. As an example the winters here in Pennsylvania can at times be very harsh. If you are leaving an establishment and feel that you are unable to drive home. You can be charged with a DUI for getting into your vehicle to sleep it off; even if you do not move your vehicle, the police can and will charge you with driving under the influence.

There is some case law when a Judge has rejected this notion that a DUI should be used in the situation that I just described. The reasoning from the Judge was that the individual was just trying to stay warm and charge their phone. They did not leave the parking space that they originally had parked in and were doing the right things as society is concerned by sleeping it off rather than attempting to drive home. However this is not the decision that all Judges reach; others have found the opposite way condemning individuals for this, thus affirming the Driving Under the Influence charge.

Recently the Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that prosecutors can bring charges against a man accused of driving while intoxicated on his own private driveway. This is very concerning as this Court is allowing for DUI offenses on private lands, including one’s own driveway. Does this mean that if you are working on your vehicle you cannot have a beer, or your riding lawnmower for that matter. I would not risk it at this point. In Pennsylvania you can be charged with Driving Under the Influence if you are on a highway or traffic way. In basic terms a road or area in which people operate their vehicles which is open to the public. The Michigan Supreme Court decided that your driveway is open to the public. Pennsylvania has not gone this far yet. However Pennsylvania has determined that parking garages and parking lots are traffic ways even if on private land. There could be a possible argument if these lots are gated thus not open to the public. Because of all the nuances it is important to hire a firm with experience in all kinds of Driving Under the Influence situations.

It is extremely important to contact an experienced law firm right away if you or someone you know is facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania. If you, your son, daughter, or loved one in Pennsylvania has been arrested for a crime in state or federal court in Pennsylvania you need legal representation Here at Manchester and Associates we represent people across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For a free consultation we can be contacted at 1-800-243-4878.

Posted in: DUI Blog

Tags: DUI, DUI Defense, DUI In Pennsylvania,

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About the Author

Brian Manchester is the owner of Manchester and Associates in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. His law firm practices DUI and Criminal Defense exclusively throughout the entire state of Pennsylvania in both state and federal court. He has a team of two other lawyers with a combined 50 years of trial and courtroom experience are also trained in science and many other skills that are relevant to criminal defense to include the psychology of persuasion as well. One of his associates is a former District Attorney (chief prosecutor) in central Pennsylvania.   Mr. Manchester and his team routinely handle serious felony cases including murder, manslaughter, sex crimes, complex financial crimes, and serious assaults. A large part of Mr. Manchester’s practice is the defense of alcohol and drug-based DUI offenses as well as drug cases using science and analytical chemistry. Mr. Manchester has training as a Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Instructor. He is one of a handful of Certified Lawyer-Scientists as recognized by the American Chemical Society in the United States. He is a member of NCDD and is a Founding Member of DUIDLA. He is also a member of the American Chemical Society with over 170,000 members across the world. To date, he is the only practicing criminal defense lawyer to belong to the Society of Forensic Toxicologist where he is an Associate Member. Mr. Manchester speaks nationally on the topic of blood and drug testing for alcohol as well as the metrological (measurement uncertainty) in forensic testing.

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