People v Rea: Drunk Driving Updates with Troy Michigan Expert DUI
Attorneys Recently the Michigan Court of Appeals heard a case involving an individual charged with operating while intoxicated after he drove drunk on his driveway. In People v Gino Robert Rea, the court determined that the charges of operating while intoxicated pursuant to MCL 257.625 should be dismissed because the defendant was not operating his vehicle in an area generally accessible to motor vehicles.
The court relied heavily on the facts of this case which were that a police officer responding to a neighbor’s complaint watched the defendant back his car out of his detached garage about 25 feet before stopping next to his house. He then pulled his car back up into his garage and was arrested when he was walking back to his home. His driveway is quite long and the officer admitted that defendant did not pull the car out past the front of his home at any point.
The relevant language of the drunk driving law is as follows, “A… person shall not operate a vehicle upon a highway or other place open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles, including an area designated for the parking of vehicles…if the person is operating while intoxicated.”
The court found that the defendant’s actions in this case did not violate this statute as the upper portion of the Defendant’s private driveway is not an area that is “generally accessible to motor vehicles”. Rather, this area of a driveway is a place that is only accessible to a small group of vehicles: namely the homeowner or his or her guests.
Importantly, the court noted that another set of facts could yield a different outcome. Specifically, the court postulated that the bottom of a private driveway may be an area that qualifies as a “place open to the general public” or a place “generally accessible to motor vehicles.” Therefore, someone driving on the bottom portion of the driveway near the road could possibly be charged with operating while intoxicated.
Overall, this case stands for the idea that the area at the top of the driveway is not an area that is open to the general public or generally accessible to motor vehicles so homeowners driving in this area cannot be charged with operating while intoxicated. However, the question of whether the area at the bottom of the driveway is open to the general public has not been decided. Homeowners should take care to avoid driving at all when under the influence of alcohol, including on the area at the bottom of the driveway.
If you have been charged with operating while intoxicated or “drunk driving”, contact the Troy Michigan Expert DUI Attorneys of Garmo & Kiste, PLC at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message. This is an intricate area of law and it is best to consult with experienced attorneys such as ours to ensure your case is handled properly.
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