Earlier this month, South San Francisco police arrested 53-year-old William Aguero on suspicion of a California DUI after they found him asleep behind the wheel of his vehicle.
Aguero’s vehicle was halfway up on the sidewalk with the engine running and in gear. Police and paramedics attempted to remove Aguero from the vehicle when they noticed that he could not walk unassisted. It was then that police suspected that Aguero was driving under the influence.
Police also learned that Aguero was on the California Department of Motor Vehicles and California Office of Traffic Safety’s DUI Hot List. The list was created as a California DMV program intended on discouraging repeat DUI offenders whose licenses are suspended from driving.
Aguero’s case raises a question often asked regarding the California DUI: Can you be arrested, charged, and convicted if the police don’t actually see you drive?
California is unlike other states in that it actually requires driving, or slight volitional movement, of the vehicle. Other states only require that a person be in “dominion and control” of the vehicle with the mere ability to drive the vehicle.
Unfortunately, California’s driving requirement can be proven through circumstantial evidence of movement.
Circumstantial evidence doesn’t by itself point to guilt, but allows the jury to infer guilt through the circumstances surrounding of the arrest.
Although the officers did not actually see Aguero drive his vehicle, the circumstantial evidence they will use to prove he drove will likely be the fact that his vehicle was up on the curb, the fact that his vehicle’s engine was on, and the fact that the vehicle’s transmission was in gear.