The requirement of driving or operating implies that the driver must have some sort of control or command of the vehicle. Guilt or innocence may hang on whether the defendant was actually “driving” in a particular circumstance:
- What if he or she was just sitting behind the wheel of a car but it was off?
- What if the defendant was sleeping there?
- What if the keys were in the defendant’s pocket and not in the ignition?
- What if that car was out of gas and could not be started?
- What if it was idling?
- What if it was being towed?
Courts nationwide have considered various scenarios to determine whether the necessary control over the vehicle was present and the outcomes vary by state and by the individual circumstances.
Cars, trucks, and vans are obviously considered to be vehicles for drunk-driving law purposes. However, people have been convicted of drunk driving while operating motorboats, mopeds, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, electric wheelchairs, golf carts, bicycles and ATVs, although the types of vehicles contemplated differ by state.