The people's voice of reason


A driving under the influence (DUI) offense carries serious fines and jail time especially if the same individual is arrested multiple times for a DUI. In 2017, Alabama was 5th in drunk driving related deaths.There are some special rules that apply.

Interestingly the special rules apply to whether (1) the individual is driving a school bus/ day care vehicle, or (2) it is a commercial vehicle, or (3) the individual is under the age of 21, or (4) the individual does not fall into any of the above categories.

The blood alcohol content levels are as follows:

(1) non-commercial or bus driver/ day care driver over the age of 21 is 0.08%

(2) commercial drivers are considered drunk if the blood alcohol content is over 0.04%

(3) school bus or day care drivers are legally drunk if the blood alcohol content is over 0.02%, and

(4) those under the age of 21 are considered drunk if the content is over 0.02%.

Blood alcohol content greater than 0.15% carries double penalties and fines/ jail are harsher on those under age 21. License suspension is included for various levels of offense. The inability of one to drive can certainly affect someone’s ability to remain employed if alternate transportation is not available and certainly if one is expected to be able to drive during their work day , continued employment may not be possible.

Of interest there was something that I learned in law school regarding control over a vehicle. If an intoxicated person is found in a car that is not running and the keys are in the ignition then that person will still be arrested for DUI. The reasoning is because that person still has control over the vehicle. Once law enforcement leaves the vehicle there is certainly no way to know whether the intoxicated person might exercise control over the vehicle and attempt to drive. This has been the general line of thinking in all of the states.

An interesting case comes from the Ohio Supreme Court which was just decided in September 2022. The facts are that Katherine Wilson was arrested in February 2018 while sleeping in her car along with three friends. The key was in the ignition and the car was running for warmth. Nothing was mentioned about intoxication but only that her license was revoked. Her license was revoked due to an earlier DUI. She was sleeping in the car because she and her friends had been kicked out of a home by her friends parents whom were hosting a party. She was fined $250 and sentenced to three days in jail. This was stayed pending her appeal.

Her conviction was based on the Ohio Driving Under OVI Suspension law. The law defines “operate” as movement of the vehicle. The facts state there was no evidence of movement. One has to wonder where the vehicle was parked, how and by whom the car was parked in its location and whether she had no other means of shelter.. The Ohio Supreme Court also stated that someone with a suspended license may also require the use of their vehicle for shelter in case of hardship.

Though there is a difference between an arrest for a DUI and a suspended license one has to wonder as well whether there was intoxication involved since Ms. Wilson and her friends had been kicked out of a party for some unstated reason. I think for the same reasons that individuals may be arrested for DUI when they have control over the vehicle would be the same for one having a suspended license. Ms. Wilson could have simply traded places with another occupant that hopefully had a valid license and was not intoxicated so as to relinquish control.

This article is informative only and not meant to be all inclusive. Additionally this article does not serve as legal advice to the reader and does not constitute an attorney- client relationship. The reader should seek counsel from their attorney should any questions exist.

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