This Pittsburgh and Morgantown criminal defense lawyer who focuses on DUI defense has represented hundreds of men and women who’ve been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs – but stories like the one I read recently out of Williamson, West Virginia, still surprise me.
Why? Because what happened to Jessica Fish, a Kentucky resident who police found passed out behind the wheel of her vehicle as it was parked in a lot, happens more frequently than many would like to believe.
I know, because I have represented folks in these very situations.
Here’s the background on Ms. Fish: Police knocked on the window of her SUV, which was parked at an angle in the lot of the Health and Human Resources building, its wheels on the sidewalk. After several knocks, Fish, an employee of DHHR, came to, “appeared confused and dazed” and then floored it.
Officers yelled for her to stop and she slammed on the breaks, was given a field sobriety test and subsequently arrested for DUI after a preliminary breath test indicated her blood-alcohol content was .211 percent.
The legal limit for intoxication in West Virginia is .08 percent.
While Fish’s vehicle was in drive when police encountered her, I am familiar with many cases where a person knows they aren’t capable of driving, so they think they will sit in their vehicles, (which are in park) listen to the radio or eat a sandwich and sober up a bit.
But here’s the thing: You can still be cited for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, even if you’re just sitting in the parking lot and your vehicle is in park.
Yes, even if you never put that bad boy in drive. And here’s why: You still have operational control of the vehicle; which is to say you still could have driven.
Just some food for thought from your friendly neighborhood criminal lawyer who focuses on DUI defense.