Two Ways You Can Be Charged With A DUI Without Driving

You probably know you can be charged with a DUI if you drive while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, but did you know you can also face DUI charges even if you weren't driving? In some cases, a prosecutor can successfully convict you of this crime even though you weren't in or near the vehicle. Here's more information about this issue and how to prevent or defend against erroneous DUI charges.

Mistaken Identity

The recent spate of scandals involving police misconduct has exposed, if nothing else, that law enforcement officers are human and prone to making mistakes or taking wrong actions. One way you can end up with a DUI is if an officer assumes you were the driver of a vehicle and doesn't believe you when you deny that allegation.

This can happen when there is an accident and the person who was driving the vehicle leaves the scene. If you're the only one standing near the vehicle when the officer arrives, the cop may assume you were the driver and ask you to undergo a breathalyzer test. If you refuse or test positive for alcohol, you could be charged with DUI.

As unlikely as this may sound, people have reported being in this exact or similar situation. For instance, a man's girlfriend borrowed his vehicle and got stuck in a ditch. The man walked to where the vehicle was located and waited for the tow truck while his girlfriend went home. According to the man, the police arrived in the interim, questioned him, and arrested him when he refused to do a breathalyzer test.

This type of case can be resolved by having the driver testify he or she was operating the vehicle. If the police don't have credible evidence you were intoxicated or driving, the case may be dismissed outright. However, it may be challenging to defend against the charge if the driver refuses to come forward and/or tests show you had been drinking. You'll want to hire an attorney to help you sort this situation out.

DUI by Consent

Another way you can be charged with a DUI is if you give permission to an intoxicated person to drive your vehicle. This is known as DUI by consent and is based on aiding and abetting statutes that prohibit people from participating in the commission of a crime, in this case driving under the influence.

In states with this type of law on the books, such as Tennessee, you don't even need to be in the vehicle to be charged. If you knew the person was intoxicated and you let the individual drive your vehicle, you will face the same type of charges and penalties as though you were actually the one behind the wheel.

You can avoid this by being careful about who you let borrow your vehicle. If you are hauled into court, you can defend against the charge by contesting you had prior knowledge the person was intoxicated.

For more information about one or both of these issues or assistance with a DUI case, contact a criminal defense attorney, like those at The Ryan Law Firm and similar offices..