Utah residents may not have heard about the appeal of a man convicted of DUI in a vehicle that arguably wasn’t drivable. In the early morning hours of Dec. 12, 2010, police were notified of a broken-down vehicle sitting in the outside lane of traffic on an interstate in the northeastern part of the country. When a police officer arrived, he found a man behind the wheel of the car. The man was arrested for DUI and later convicted. He appealed his conviction stating that he was not really drunk driving since the car was not in motion.
According to court documents, the vehicle did not have all four tires and looked as though it had been in an accident. The police officer that responded to the call observed that the man sitting behind the wheel of the car smelled strongly of alcohol and was slurring his speech. The man failed several breath tests and had to have blood drawn at a local hospital in order to establish his blood alcohol level, which turned out to be 0.143. This level would be considered intoxicated in most states, including Utah.
In his appeal, the man accused of drunk driving petitioned to have his conviction overturned based on the fact that the officer could not place him behind the wheel of the car when it was involved in an accident. He claimed there was no evidence that he had actually been the driving the vehicle, drunk or otherwise. He asserts that he has no memory of being involved in an accident.
It may be arguable on appeal whether or not a driver can be found guilty of DUI if the vehicle is not moving. However, in this case, the court rejected this defense. The court was somehow convinced that the man was, in fact, drunk driving when the accident occurred.
Source: pennlive.com, “State court backs DUI conviction of driver who sat on I-81 in wrecked, tire-less car,” Matt Miller, June 20, 2013