What constitutes Driving; and what is the definition of Alcoholic Beverages, and Drugs for purposes of Driving under the Influence?

Man Driving

One of the necessary elements of driving under the influence is, of course, driving. While this may seem obvious it is not always that clear and the proof necessary to establish driving may need to be under some circumstance indirect. Generally, if a vehicle has a motor and is moving with a person controlling that movement the element of driving is met. It may surprise some, but it is unnecessary for the motor to actually be running. Also, the movement need only be slight, several inches will be enough. In one strange scenario a person steering a motor vehicle from the passenger’s seat, while the person in the driver’s seat operated the accelerator and brakes, was considered to be driving for purposes of driving under the influence.

Man Driving

To be considered driving, within the meaning of driving under the influence, the act must be volitional, or clearly intentional. Also, moving a car out of harm’s way in an emergency situation after a traffic accident by a person not involved in the accident has been held to not be driving within the meaning of the statutes requiring driving as an element of driving under the influence.

Champagne poster

Proof of driving can be established in three different ways. The first is direct evidence, which is a person is seen driving by a police officer or another witness. Secondly, it can be established through circumstantial evidence, which is where no one actually witnesses the driving but through examining the known facts the driving element is proven indirectly.


For example where a person is found by a car, or in a car; parked on a freeway; the person is the registered owner of the car; there exists no other facts to explain how the car got to that location other than being driven there by someone; there is no one else present who could have driven the car; the keys are in the ignition or with the person believed to be the driver. These circumstantial facts establish that there is no other reasonable explanation as to how the vehicle arrived at that location without it being driven by the person suspected of driving the car, the owner. The third means of proving driving is simply the person admits to driving.

Drug Poster

Other facts that may seem obvious to most must necessarily be defined by law. The definition of alcoholic beverages is a liquid or other product which contains ethanol (the chemical name for “alcohol”) and is intended to be consumed voluntarily by individuals. Drugs means any substance other than alcohol that is meant to be consumed in various ways including, but not limited to smoke or vapor inhalation; orally ingested; trans nasally ingested; by needle injection; and which could have an appreciable effect on a person's ability to drive a car as safely as “an ordinarily prudent and cautious man, in full possession of his faculties, using reasonable care, would drive a similar vehicle under like conditions.”

Drug poster