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Can You Get a DUI On Private Property?

You know that you can be arrested for driving under the influence if you are caught driving down a public road or highway. In fact, when most people think of DUI, they picture someone weaving in and out of a lane of traffic. We may even consider checkpoints and, in the worst cases, accidents. It’s fair that people think of these things. After all, most DUIs do occur in these ways.

Unfortunately, some people also believe that if they can make it home and into their own driveway, they can avoid being charged with driving under the influence. This can cause people to make risky maneuvers and take chances they shouldn’t. The truth of the matter is that you can be charged with a DUI on private property, even your own driveway.

A case in Michigan is getting attention from the public and law enforcement officials alike. The state’s Supreme Court has ruled that a case can proceed against a man that was charged with DUI after being discovered in his vehicle in his driveway. Regardless of the outcome, this case will likely set a precedent for similar cases throughout the country.

The Case

A man was discovered in his driveway in 2014 when police were responding to a noise complaint. An officer witnessed the man begin to back out of his garage and then pull back in. The man was ultimately discovered to be more than three times the legal limit and charged with operating while intoxicated. The man’s attorneys attempted to have the charges dismissed, and the trial court agreed. So did the appellate court. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, did not.

In a majority ruling, the court said, in part, “when determining whether a place is generally accessible to motor vehicles, the focus is not on whether most people can access the area or have permission to use it but on whether most motor vehicles can access the area.” The man’s driveway, the court said, was designated for vehicular travel.

Because of the ruling, the man will face Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) charges in court. He may find a jury that agrees with him and not the Supreme Court, but he will have to answer to his actions. No matter how the case turns out, it has shown that you don’t have to be off of your own property to be charged with drunk driving.

Being convicted of a driving under the influence charge in DeKalb County can have severe consequences on the rest of your life. You may find it difficult to hold a professional license, secure employment and even experience financial difficulty. You have the right to a competent legal defense. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation. We have years of experience defending cases like yours, and we will put our knowledge to work for you.

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