In DeKalb County DUI cases, driving is defined in the same way that it is understood and accepted across the country, which is as being behind the wheel of the car, and controlling the car as it moves. For example, if a person goes to a bar, they may know that they have had too much to drink to drive home but still think they can drive to the other side of the parking lot where there is some shade or away from the lights.
However, something seemingly innocuous like merely driving the car a very short distance across a parking lot, would qualify as driving. Sleeping in the car does not qualify as driving, but if a person is behind the wheel and the car moves at all, then that is considered driving.
If a person is facing DUI charges, especially if they never actually drove the car, they should contact a DeKalb County DUI lawyer right away to maintain expert guidance throughout their case process.
To be actually guilty of the charge of DUI in Georgia, an individual must actually drive the car. Specifically, the law says that they must be driving or in actual physical control of a moving vehicle. For example, if a person drinks heavily at a bar, goes out to the car, realizes they should not be driving, gets behind the wheel, turns on the car, and puts on the radio and the air conditioner, under the Georgia law, that person has not driven the car yet and would not be guilty of DUI.
However, the problem in the above situation is that a police officer might come along and be under the assumption that they saw the individual driving, or maybe they saw another car, but when the individual is behind the wheel and is under the influence, the officer could easily believe they have reason to be suspicious. In a situation where a person cannot find a ride home, they should get in the back seat and leave the keys in the glove box in order to make it clear to everyone that they were not anywhere near the wheel. Driving must be proven in order for a conviction for DUI to take place, and in many cases, the proof of whether or not the person actually drove is a point of contention in a trial. Simply, actually driving is an essential element of DUI in Georgia.
Sometimes, a car accident occurs and it is not clear to the officers who was driving upon their arrival at the scene. The police interview the potential drivers, and they interview other witnesses, then they decide who they believe was driving. The officers do not always get their decision correct, but an individual may protest and say that they were a passenger but there may be other witnesses who say that they saw that same person driving.
This situation actually comes up more often than one would think. Sometimes, it comes up in connection with a car that is broken down on the side of the road. The police might approach a vehicle in which they find someone sitting behind the wheel, and that person could say that they were not driving the vehicle, but moved seats after the driver went for help because the car broke down. Sometimes, that can be true, or it can be a completely made up story, but explanations along those lines come up reasonably often.
It is not uncommon to see a scenario in which a person has been arrested in the parking lot of a bar. Police officers know where people drink, they know where they drive from, and, quite often, they will watch the parking lots to see if someone who appears to be drunk walks to a car and gets behind the wheel and starts driving. Therefore, not only is it common to see officers patrol places where people are likely to be drinking, but sometimes they even stake out parking lots near bars and restaurants.