Thursday , April 19 2018
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Virginia DWI/DUI News: You don’t need to be driving to be convicted in Virginia. What constitutes operation?

We commonly call the offense we defend “driving under the influence” or “driving while intoxicated.”  But in Virginia, you don’t need to be driving to be convicted.  Virginia criminalizes “operating” while impaired also:

“It shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate any motor vehicle . . . .” Va. Code 18.2-266.

But what constitutes operation?  If you start to feel the effects of alcohol can you pull to the side of the road and sleep it off?  Can you run the heater if it is cold?  At least play the radio?

In March of 2012, the Supreme Court of Virginia overturned 20 years of precedent and ruled that if you are seated in the driver’s seat and the key is in the ignition you are operating and in danger of getting a DUI.  In Enriquez v. Commonwealth, the Supreme Court explained their reasoning:

“Ordinary experience tells us that one in a drunken stupor in the driver’s seat of a vehicle is likely to arouse abruptly, engage the motive power of the vehicle, and roar away imperiling the lives of innocent citizens. This sequence of events easily can occur where, as here, a drunk is sitting behind the steering wheel of a motor vehicle alone, with the key already in the ignition.”

Previous decisions required the ignition to be in the “on” or “accessory” position.  Now the law is clear:  if you are going to pull over, make sure the key is out of the ignition.

Jeffrey C. Martin, Esq.
The Law Firm of Michael C. Tillotson
13195 Warwick Boulevard, Suite 2A
Newport News, Virginia 23602

About Mike Tillotson

Mr. Tillotson graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Studies in 1986. He received the Alpha Signa Award for graduating with the highest grade point average in his field of study. In 1990, he received his juris doctor from Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary. Being involved in professional legal organizations allows attorneys to keep abreast of the latest information in their field. Mr. Tillotson is an active member of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National College for DUI Defense as well as a Lifetime Member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He has also been recognized by the National College for DUI Defense for his dedication to defending citizens who have been accused of driving while intoxicated. Mr. Tillotson was recognized as one of The American Trial Lawyers Association's Top 100 Trial Lawyers from Virginia.

If you would like to contact the author, please visit: http://virginiabeachduilawyer.net


One comment

  1. Lawyers are easy to find by searching onnile phone directories, but the best way to find an attorney who specializes in DUI cases and criminal law, would be to contact the local bar association for your city or state. They provide free lawyer referral services and you can ask them to refer you to a lawyer who mainly represents people who have been arrested and charged with DUI. +1Was this answer helpful?

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