In Mississippi it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle with an illegally high alcohol content. The State must prove that the defendant was operating his/her vehicle while in that condition. However, there is no requirement that the State produce an eyewitness or other direct evidence showing that the defendant was driving the car. The State is allowed to use circumstantial evidence and reasonable inferences to prove that the defendant was operating a motor vehicle.
Can you get a DUI if the vehicle is not running?
There is a very common misunderstanding in the public that in order to get a DUI the vehicleâ€™s engine must be running. This is not true. Mississippi Courts have repeatedly held that a person can be convicted of DUI even in situations where the engine is off. This means that if you are sleeping in the vehicle with the engine off, you can be still be charged and convicted of DUI. If you are in the driverâ€™s seat, it is very likely that a Court will determine that you were â€œoperatingâ€ the vehicle within the meaning of the statute.
Advice from a Mississippi DUI Attorney
When you are too drunk to drive, the best advice is to not be in your vehicle at all and to find another way home. Do not try to sleep it off in your car unless it is completely unavoidable. If you have no other options and simply must sleep it off in your car, you should sleep in the back seat with the engine off.