There are often odd or unusual DUI cases where a challenge is made to the validity of criminal DUI charges – if you are on a lawnmower, bicycle, if you aren’t actually driving (but have the keys) – and most recently whether a person could be charged when they are on their own driveway.
Recently, the Michigan Supreme Court has affirmatively held that yes you can, in fact, be charged with a DUI if you are found to be impaired and operating a car in your own driveway.
People v. Rea
The question being posed to the Michigan Supreme Court arose out of an incident in Northville, MI. A police officer was dispatched to the defendant’s home after receiving noise complaints. The police officer observed the defendant starting to drive out of his garage and into his driveway. Upon being alerted to the police officer’s presence, the defendant drove his car back into his garage, knocking over some items in the process. When the officer approached, he observed that the defendant exhibited signs of intoxication and placed him under arrest for DUI.
The defendant challenged the charges arguing that the driveway was not a “place generally accessible to motor vehicles for purposes of criminal liability” as required by law and two lower courts agreed. However, the Michigan Supreme Court did not, holding affirmatively that a driveway is generally accessible by motor vehicles and that a person may be charged with a DUI while operating a vehicle on their driveway.
Challenging DUI Charges
Your criminal defense attorney should be giving you guidance on how to appropriately defend a DUI charge. However, it is not safe to assume that you cannot be charged with drunk driving simply because you are not traveling in a typical motor vehicle or not on a typical roadway – in Michigan, at least, your driveway counts.