Normally a DUI stop involves the police pulling over a driver who is swerving, weaving, or driving in some way that suggests the driver might be under the influence. In some cases, civilians will call the police when they are concerned that someone is driving drunk.
According to a recent news article from the News Tribune, workers at a fast food restaurant called the police after a man who appeared to be drunk came up to the drive through window and passed out. The man must have woken up at some point, because police arrived to find his car straddling two parking spaces designated for disabled persons.
When the officers approached the man’s car, the backup lights turned on, and the car started moving. The officer moved out of the way to avoid a collision and approached the car on foot. Officers alleged that they saw the man throw his car keys into the back seat. When they attempted to speak to him, he allegedly tried to order food from the police.
The driver, who is 23 years old, said that he did not trust police and asked to speak with an attorney. He supposedly spoke with a public defender and then agreed to take a breath test, where it was determined that his blood-alcohol content (BAC) was approximately .18 which is more than twice the legal limit of .08 grams per 100 milliliters of blood.
A public defender on the phone told the police that the suspect wanted a blood test from an independent lab. The officers asked if he still wanted this, and he supposedly told the officer that he did not and would rather have a glass of water. He was then charged with driving under the influence (DUI) alcohol.
As our Birmingham DUI attorneys can explain, the observation that the officers claim to have made, where they saw the man throw his keys into the back seat, is often important in cases where the police find a sleeping driver. Drunk driving essentially has two elements. The police prove that the suspect was intoxicated and that the suspect was driving.
When the officers don’t witness the suspect driving, the officers will try to use other evidence to establish that the alleged drunk driver recently drove the car. Throwing the keys into the backseat can demonstrate what they call the exercise of dominion and control over the vehicle.
This can be a significant issue where the police arrested a person who knew he or she was too drunk to drive and decided to the right thing and sleep in the car rather than driving. The problem is that if an officer finds a person sleeping in the car, the officer will claim they are doing a wellness check and ask the person why they are sleeping in the car. The officer will then allege that the person was operating the car and place him or her under arrest for driving under the influence, even if the suspect had no intention of driving anywhere.