This morning (7:00 am) NFL Star Aldon Smith was arrested after having been involved in an automobile accident and suspected of being DUI. Reports indicate that he was involved in a single car accident in a residential area. Apparently, local residents came upon Aldon shortly after the accident, as he was still seated in the vehicle with the car running. Aldon was then transported by police to the station where it is believed that he tested above the legal limit for blood alcohol.
This case presents an education experience for Virignia drivers. When it comes to DUI, accident cases can be the worst from a the sentencing point of view; but they can also present problems for the prosecutors. Whenever accidents are involved, it is likely that the DUI will be seen as aggravated because (as you would expect) prosecutors will argue that it could have easily caused someone to be hurt. While it does not appear that Aldon is alleged to have caused injuries in this case, given that it was in a residential area, it is not a stretch for a prosecutor to make such a leap.
But often times, accidents can pose problems to prove DUI. Many times, accidents occur with no witnesses and by the time anyone appears on the scene, the suspected driver is outside of the vehicle therefore no longer actually driving. If he or she does not admit to driving, it can be argued that there is reasonable doubt as to the driver actually was.
It appears, however, this theory would not get Aldon very far in Virginia. Given that citizens appeared on the scene while he was in the vehicle AND with the car running. While presumably he was not “seen” driving, he was still “operating” the vehicle under Virginia law because the vehicle was on. Therfore, atleast in Virginia, the prosecutors would have a very strong arguement that he was DUI
Check out the story here: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/9698010/aldon-smith-san-francisco-49ers-arrested-suspicion-dui
And for more questions about this case or Virginia DUI law, give James Abrenio a call at BenGlassLaw.