If you are walking down the street, it seems reasonable to assume that you aren’t in the act of driving. Yet, under Illinois law, you can be charged with drunk driving even if you are nowhere near your car.
How can that happen? What can you do?
As with most crimes, the state must prove the elements of a DUI beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, the state must prove that you are 1) in actual physical control of a vehicle while 2) under the influence of alcohol or drugs. But how can you be in physical control of your car when you aren’t anywhere close to it?
Often these cases occur when someone has had an accident or breakdown on the highway and are walking somewhere to get help. In People v Call, the defendant was picked up two miles away from an accident walking along a highway. Defendant admitted to police that he’d been driving the car. While that admission by itself is not enough to prove driving, other evidence supported the court’s inference the defendant had driven the car.
Another Illinois court, People v Chavez, held that defendant’s appearance at a nearby gas station with a leg injury helped prove that he had been driving a car which had flipped over.
Although Illinois courts seem to infer driving under almost any circumstances, there is still hope. The state’s ability to meet its burden of proof depends on the facts of each case. An experienced DUI attorney can help you present those facts in their most favorable light.
For example, one Illinois court, People v Foster, refused to find driving where the defendant was in the passenger seat of a car that was partly suspended over a culvert. The defendant told police he had been driving the car but later denied it. The court looked at the only undisputed evidence—that defendant had been found on the passenger side of the car.
If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)