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Defining Driving in Maryland DUI Cases

Defining driving in Maryland DUI cases is crucial to a conviction. The prosecutor must prove that the defendant was driving and was under the influence of a substance while driving. If you have questions regarding driving in the context of a DUI case, reach out to an experienced DUI lawyer. An attorney could help you understand how this may impact your case. Also, a seasoned lawyer could advocate for you and help build a strong defense if you are facing charges.

Understanding Driving in the Context of DUI Cases

Maryland DUI law describes “driving” as someone who is driving or attempting to drive a vehicle, who is control of an operable motor vehicle on a public roadway. If someone is sitting in a car and the car is turned off and the keys are not in the ignition, they are likely not going to be considered driving. There are also exceptions for a stationary shelter which means they may use their vehicle and turn on the engines to use the heat or the air conditioning system if the weather requires it.

An attorney does not have to turn off the engine and potentially put their wellbeing in danger if the weather is cold and they need the heat to survive, but the conditions have to support that. Generally, it is good practice if that is the situation or if they are unable to operate the motor vehicle, but they do need to stay in it for their own safety or wellbeing. If possible, they should get in the backseat, making sure the car is legally parked and in a safe location. Contact an accomplished lawyer for more information about operating a vehicle in the context of a DUI case.

When it is Not Clear Who Was Driving

A passenger can be charged with a DUI in a few different ways. One scenario is if there was a collision or an accident with multiple people in the car, including at least one passenger. When the police arrived, for some reason they identified the passenger as the driver. For instance, the people in the vehicle had gotten out of the car and there was no one sitting in the driver’s seat. Sometimes law enforcement will try to verify who was driving. The actual driver may have left the scene and the passenger is the only person there from the vehicle in question.

That person may be charged by a witness, whether it was a person in another vehicle involved in an accident or a bystander who may mistakenly identify a passenger as the person who was driving. Law enforcement may investigate a situation after-the-fact. They may have vehicle information, but not know exactly who was operating a vehicle. Sometimes they use registration data to find the registered owner of the vehicle who may have been a passenger or may not have even been in the car.

The State will need some plausible reason to charge a person or identify a person as a driver. It is usually a case of either intentionally or unintentionally mistaken identification after an accident where the driver and the passenger are both outside the vehicle, and it is not readily apparent who was driving. If the driver does not voluntarily identify themselves as the driver, then a witness or law enforcement officer may end up making the wrong identification and the passenger could be charged with a DUI. Under the law, the only way a passenger cannot be found responsible and legally convicted of a DUI is if it is proven that they were actually driving the vehicle. By definition, a passenger is not a driver, but a passenger may be charged. Unless it can be proven that they were driving the vehicle, there is no way a passenger can be convicted of driving under the influence.

Can an Individual be Arrested for a DUI When Driving on Private Property?

DUI laws in Maryland apply to public roadways. This means that a person can drive around on their private property under the influence. However, if they put other people in danger, they can be subject to other charges. If an individual was driving on a public roadway and signaled by law enforcement to pull over and they pull into a private driveway, they can be charged with a DUI.  The officers observed them driving on a public roadway and they are subject to and can be prosecuted under the DUI laws. The actual location of where the person was stopped is not the determining factor. It is essential to understand that public parking lots and businesses are also covered by the law. Even though they may be private property, it is a public area that is open to the public and they are subject to the DUI Laws.

Defining driving in Maryland DUI cases can be complex, but a knowledgeable lawyer could help.

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