Tuesday, March 24, 2009

DUI Convictions Even When You're Not Driving

I Swear I Wasn't Driving. Ask the Car.. For attorneys practicing DUI law in Connecticut, you probably already know that as long as your client had his keys in the ignition, it may be enough to get him on the hook for a DUI charge. On Monday, the Connecticut Supreme Court took it a step further. We come to the case of Michael Cyr who was arrested in a parking lot near a Manchester bar back in February 2005. Although he never put his key in the ignition and never drove anywhere, Steve made the mistake of starting his car remotely and then sitting in the driver's seat intoxicated. The mistake was made worse considering Steve's previous convictions in 1997 and 1998. The Court ordered the state Appellate Court to reinstate Cyr's previously thrown out conviction and sent his matter back to Manchester Superior Court for sentencing. Accordingly, Cyr now faces a year in prison followed by 3 years of probation. "In starting the engine of his vehicle remotely then getting behind the steering wheel, the defendant clearly undertook the first act in a sequence of steps necessary to set in motion the motive power of a vehicle," Chief Justice Chase Rogers wrote in the opinion. The decision was particularly difficult for Cyr's recently laid off wife and 2 step children. . To add insult to injury,both she and her mother were involved in auto accidents where the other drivers were driving drunk. Cyr suffered neck pain, while her mother suffered a traumatic brain injury and was blinded. Jessica Cyr stated her husband got into the car that night to plug in his cell phone and call for a ride home. The Cyrs could appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but it may be financially unfeasible for them. In an associated press interview, Steven Tomeo, Michael Cyr's lawyer, stated that he felt the court has set a bad precedent. "It sounds like they're saying if you're under the influence, if you're impaired, you have no right to go into the car in the driver's side and if you do, you do so under you're own peril with the chance of being charged with operating under the influence."Tomeo said. "I just would like them to stick with the facts." But, Tomeo added, "How do you disagree with saying a person under the influence shouldn't get behind the wheel? We all know that. The question is, is he operating the vehicle and is he operating impaired?"

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