Man Convicted of DUI for Listening to his Radio in His Driveway (Sarafin v. Commonwealth)

In the case of Sarafin v. Commonwealth, the Supreme Court of Virginia upheld the conviction of a man who was found sleeping in his car, with keys in his ignition, while he was listening to the radio in his own driveway.  Law enforcement came across the defendant when there was a noise complaint in the area.  They then found the defendant in the driver’s seat of his vehicle in his own private driveway. 

In upholding his conviction, the Court found the defendant was operating his vehicle even though it wasn’t in motion.  In doing so, the Court opined:

"Ordinary experience tells us that one in a drunken stupor in the driver’s seat of a vehicle is likely to arouse abruptly, engage the motive power of the vehicle, and roar away imperiling the lives of innocent citizens."

When addressing the fact that the defendant was in his own driveway, the Court found that Virginia DUI law doesn’t require driving on a “public highway” to uphold a conviction. 

Are you surprised by this outcome?  Or do you have any thoughts?  Feel free to comment below, or call me at 703-591-9829.  

James S. Abrenio
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Focusing on criminal, traffic defense and personal injury cases
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