Can I be charged with operating under the influence if I was not driving?
In some Massachusetts OUI arrests, police will arrive at the scene when a motorist is outside of the vehicle and when there is no evidence of operation. Many think that if the police do not see you drive then the Commonwealth will not be able to prove operation.
Unfortunately, that is incorrect. While it may be more difficult for the Commonwealth to prove that you were operating the vehicle, this element can still be established. One way the Commonwealth will attempt to establish is through statements that you may have made to the police, such as admissions of driving. If there is an admission, then a Massachusetts OUI lawyer can attempt to exclude the statement from evidence or if the statement comes in to evidence argue that that admission is not enough to prove that element of the offense. In Massachusetts, an admission alone is not enough to prove a criminal charge of drunk driving.
Other ways the Commonwealth will attempt to prove operation include, whether the vehicle was registered to you or not, whether you are the only person in the area where an accident occurred and where the vehicle is located. In these cases, the Commonwealth can argue that circumstantially there is evidence of operation as you are the owner of the vehicle, no other drivers are in the location and the vehicle could not have gotten to that location other than operation. In many cases, operation will not be the most effective defense; however, it does come up as a defense to Massachusetts DUI charges and should be explored as a possible defense to the charge.
Even if the Commonwealth is able to prove operation, if there is no evidence of erratic driving or no testimony regarding any accident or cause of an accident, it would be a more difficult case for the Commonwealth to prove that you were under the influence of alcohol as evidence of erratic driving may be missing.
If you have any questions about the legal definition of operation of a motor vehicle in a Massachusetts OUI charge, call Attorney Delsignore at 781-686-5924 or 508-455-4755.