In Missouri, one of the elements a prosecutor must prove in a DWI case is that the defendant was in fact operating a motor vehicle in an intoxicated condition. Under Missouri law, “operates” is defined as “physically driving or operating a motor vehicle.” This leads many people to ask what exactly does “operating” mean. The Missouri Court of Appeals and Supreme Court have provided clarity on this subject in recent cases. Recently, the Missouri Court of Appeals has confirmed that if the keys are in the ignition and the car is running, you are deemed to be “operating a motor vehicle.”
Therefore, under current Missouri case law, a driver who decides to sleep in his or her car while listing to the radio could be given a DWI. Also, another common scenario where a DWI could be given to a driver is where the driver takes a nap in the vehicle with the air conditioner or heater in use. Obviously, in most cars the keys must be in the ignition to use the car stereo, air conditioner, or heat in a vehicle.
If you find yourself pulled over for DWI, no matter what the circumstances are, it is vital that you exercise your 5th amendment right to not answer any questions asked by the police officer. Even a question that is seemingly routine to answer such as “have you been driving?” can provide a prosecutor with necessary evidence. It is important to provide your license and insurance, be polite, and ask to speak with your lawyer.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a DWI, certain time limitations are placed on you regarding your driver’s license. It is important to call the St. Louis DWI lawyers of Henderson & Waterkotte, P.C. right away to learn how the law applies to your situation. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and will aggressively fight for you.