Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I live in the State of California. I went to a party last week and I had a few drinks. After I got home, however, I heard a knock on my door and the police asked me to come outside. They conducted a few tests and decided to make a DUI arrest. I am wondering if this is legal and what steps I should take now?”
Although state laws vary, under California Penal Code as well as the California Vehicle code, you do not have to be driving a car to be arrested for DUI. In fact, it is possible for police officers or someone else to witness your unsafe driving and notify the police and for them to come and conduct DUI testing and arrest you for DUI even if you are at your house.
At question, however, will be whether they can prove that you were operating a motorized vehicle when your blood alcohol concentration was above the legal limit of 0.08% or higher.
What does the state need to make a DUI arrest and to convict you of DUI?
You mentioned that you had already arrived safely at your house, but let’s imagine that the police officer had been following you for several miles and witnessed several driving actions which he determined might indicate you were intoxicated- swerving, running red lights, driving in the wrong lane, driving too slowly, etc.
If the police officer witnessed your unsafe driving, he would have probable cause to believe you are intoxicated and to make a DUI arrest. Now, to successfully prove that you were in fact intoxicate at the time you were operating your car the state is going to need evidence.
Although they might have the testimony of the officer, they will also probably want additional evidence such as chemical tests performed close to the time you arrived home, photographic evidence of you driving in an unsafe manner, witness testimony of your unsafe driving, or other evidence on your person or in your car that were drinking.
Defending against a DUI arrest after you are at home
If you have been arrested for a DUI after you arrived at home, you should contact a DUI lawyer. Prosecuting this type of case is often difficult for the state, especially if the officer did not witness you driving unsafely and has little evidence against you.
Additionally, often witness testimony is inaccurate or they misidentify the driver. If a great deal of time has lapsed from when you were driving and you arrived home the state may also have difficulty proving that you did not consume more alcohol at home, thus making it more difficult to prove your BAC was past the legal limit at the time you were driving.
Whether you sitting in the car with the keys in your hand and not driving, you have stopped your car to go into a store, or you have already arrived home, the state only needs to prove that you either have actual physical control of the vehicle and you are intoxicated or your BAC was above the legal limit when you were actually operating the car.
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