What Are DUIs with No Proof of Driving? | San Diego Law Blog
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What Are DUIs with No Proof of Driving?

By San Diego Attorney on December 5, 2022

DUIs without proof of driving are called “DUIs by discovery.” This is when the arresting officer finds no evidence that the driver was operating the vehicle. The most common type of DUI by discovery is when the driver is found sleeping behind the wheel. The driver may be charged with a DUI if the officer believes that the driver was intoxicated at the time of an incident.

DUIs with no proof of driving can be complex for the prosecution to prove since they must rely on circumstantial evidence to show that the defendant was behind the wheel. This can include witness testimony, surveillance footage, or evidence from the vehicle (such as DNA or fingerprints). If the prosecution cannot prove that the defendant was driving, the charges may be reduced to a lesser offense, such as reckless driving, or dismissed entirely.

Legal Meaning of “Drive”

California law defines “driving” as when a person intentionally moves a vehicle of their own volition. This means that accidental driving or “back seat” driving does not count as driving under the law.

A vehicle must only move a few inches to be considered driving by law. Though the vehicle does not need to be in gear, steering alone is enough to be considered driving.

What Penalties Could You Be Facing?

The penalties for DUI in California can vary depending on the severity of the case, the level of alcohol consumption, and the offender’s age. In general, the penalties for DUI in California can include jail time, fines, license suspension and mandatory alcohol education classes. The most severe penalties are typically reserved for cases involving high levels of alcohol consumption, repeat offenders and those who cause accidents or injure others.

To charge someone with a DUI, a prosecutor must prove the defendant drove a vehicle while intoxicated. Police, however, do not necessarily need to see a person driving to charge them with a DUI. Instead, proof of a DUI can be found through direct or circumstantial evidence.

Direct evidence can include:

  • Testimony by an officer or witness
  • Traffic camera footage
  • Defendants’ statements or admissions

Circumstantial evidence can include the following:

  • Someone drove the vehicle because it had moved
  • The person who drove the vehicle was the defendant

What is the “No Driving” Defense, and How Can it Be Used?

The “no driving” defense is a legal defense strategy used in some circumstances where a person is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The defense is based on the argument that the person was not driving the vehicle at the time of the alleged offense. This defense may be applicable if there is insufficient evidence that the person was physically controlling the vehicle or at all, or if the way in which the accused interacted with the vehicle does not meet the legal definition of “driving”.

Hire a Lawyer to Defend You In a DUI Case

You must hire a lawyer immediately if you’ve been accused of a DUI. A “no driving” defense can be complicated, and you need a lawyer to help you navigate the legal system. You may face severe penalties without a lawyer including jail time, driver’s license suspension, and hefty fines. Contact JD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys to schedule a consultation. Call (760) 630-2000 today.

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