Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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Virginia Debates “Operating” Under the Influence Again

Virginia Debates “Operating” Under the Influence Again

Virginia makes it illegal to “drive” or “operate” a motor vehicle while intoxicated.  While “drive” is pretty understandable, the definition of “operate” continues to change.  The last re-definition was in 2012 when our Supreme Court in Virginia said for the first time that “operate” means (1) keys in the ignition and (2) butt in the driver’s seat.  Before that the ignition had to be on.

That’s still true if you are parked on or beside a roadway in Virginia.  But what about if you are parked in your own driveway or a public parking lot?  That issue will be decided by the Virginia Supreme Court in the Sarafin v. Commonwealth case.

To define “operation” Virginia courts have looked to the definition of “operator” in the Code of Virginia.  And guess what?  “Operator” is defined as one who “(i) drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle on a highway.”  Sure enough, it says “highway” (which means roadway) and not driveway or parking lot.

For more information about operation in Virginia, check out

Our passion at Tillotson & Martin, L.L.C., is defending citizens against unfair DUI & drug laws.  We write the book for DWI defense for Virginia attorneys and provide seminars for attorneys on how to beat the breath test machine.  We train extensively to develop and improve cutting edge defenses.  Our attorneys are active National College for DUI Defense members, are certified in NHTSA Field Sobriety Testing, and are trained to interpret breath test and blood test data.

Don’t let a DWI or alcohol charge ruin your life.  We strive to be the best trained and most prepared Virginia DUI attorneys so that we can aggressively fight for your rights.  Call us for a free consultation at (757) 969-5197.

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Mike Tillotson

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.

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