You’ve been out for a night on the town. You made the decision to drive yourself home. You’ve made it to your driveway and see a police car blocking your way out with its lights flashing. Your stomach drops but then you remember… you’re at home. There’s no way you can be in trouble now. Or can you?
Many people are under the mistaken belief that they can’t be charged for driving under the influence when they are in their own driveways. That may not necessarily be the case. Even if you are on your own property, you may be charged with driving under the influence. Let’s take a look at a recent case that made its way to the Michigan Supreme Court.
The Definition of “Driveway”
In this case, a man in Michigan was charged with driving under the influence after an officer, responding to a noise complaint, saw the man back out of his garage and then back in once he noticed the officer. The man ended up testing three times the legal limit of alcohol. His attorneys moved to have the charges dismissed because the man had never left his property. They argued that a driveway is not “generally accessible to motor vehicles.”
The court in which the case was heard agreed with the attorneys. The court of appeals agreed as well. The man lost his case in the state’s supreme court. The court determined that the question was not would people have permission to access the area, but whether they could. The court continued with its decision, determining that the area was designed for travel and there was nothing blocking any motor vehicle from turning into it.
What It Means for You
Generally, you can be charged with driving under the influence if you are located in your driveway. It would be highly unusual for a police officer to stop anyone while they were pulling in or out of their driveway, particularly out, but they do have that right. If someone calls in a complaint due to your behaviors, even on your own property, and the police find you to be operating your vehicle and suspect you of being under the influence of an intoxicating substance, you may find yourself facing charges.
It also means that you are not home-free if the police are following you and you make it home. There is no safe-zone in your driveway. If the police observe you to be driving in such a way that they believe you have been drinking prior to getting behind the wheel, they are well within their rights to charge you with DUI.
If you are charged with driving under the influence in Pennsylvania, reach out to our office. We are happy to offer you a free case evaluation at which time we will review the details of your stop and advise you of your legal options. Call today for assistance.