Most people think they have a good idea of what it means to "operate" a vehicle when accused of drunk driving. They usually envision the typical scenario of a police officer driving behind a vehicle on a highway that is swerving between the lanes. The police officer executes a traffic stop and, when he approaches the rolled-down driver's side window, he smells the powerful odor of alcohol and intoxicants. The police officer then administers a PBT (preliminary breath test) to discover that the driver is over the legal limit and then executes an arrest. But what about those situations where it is not so clear that the driver was "operating" the vehicle? What if the officer finds the drunk individual in the parking lot when the car is turned off? What if the officer finds the drunk individual in a running car engaged in the parking or neutral gear but he or she was sleeping at the wheel? Are they "operating" the vehicle?
One of the most unpleasant experiences faced by many drivers comes when you see the red and blue flashing lights in our rearview mirror. Many times, you already have an idea about why you are being pulled over; sometimes, you don't. Regardless, how handle that (hopefully) brief exchange with the police officer can have a lasting impact on your driving record, or possibly even on your criminal record.