What Does it Mean to Operate a Motor Vehicle in Order to be Charged with OUI under Mass. Law
In order to be found guilty of operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor under Massachusetts law, the Commonwealth must prove that an individual has operated a motor vehicle on a public way at a time his/her ability to operate safely has been impaired by alcohol, or with a blood alcohol level of .08 or above. All elements are of equal importance, and an overabundance of one element does not make up for a deficiency in another, according to dui attorney Shane W. Surrette of Worcester, MA.
For example, the government must prove that the person has operated a motor vehicle. Operation is a term of art and has been defined as, “intentionally manipulating some mechanical or electrical part of the vehicle, which alone or in sequence, will set the vehicle in motion.”
With this in mind, consider the situation where two people are intoxicated and are walking around outside a motor vehicle that was involved in a crash, where such vehicle came to rest on a public way. What will the police look for in determining who the operator of the motor vehicle was?
Beyond an admission to operation, which is insufficient without corroboration to support a conviction, the police will look to a variety of factors to support their belief that a certain person operated the motor vehicle in the example provided above. For instance, the police will look to see who has the keys to the vehicle, who owns the vehicle, if either party agrees to field sobriety tests, and any additional evidence that may corroborate an opinion that a certain person operated the motor vehicle. In appropriate cases, this may even include DNA testing where blood and/or saliva are left within the driver’s seat area.
As a result, it is important to remember that the Commonwealth has to prove all three elements beyond a reasonable doubt to support a conviction for operating under the influence under Mass. law. Even if intoxication and public way can be shown, the government still has to prove to a moral certainty that the person charged has in fact operated the motor vehicle. If you or someone you know has been charged with OUI where the police discovered you outside of a motor vehicle, contact an experienced Worcester OUI Attorney who will fight for you.