The Michigan Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a drunk driving case dating back to 2014 that questions the exact nature of ‘driving’ under Michigan’s DUI laws. Specifically, the case of Gino Rea who never actually left his own driveway but was drunk while sitting behind the steering wheel of his car. .
The case started in March of 2014. Northville Police were dispatched to an address for a noise disruption complaint that had to do with loud music. Officers came three separate times to the same address to talk to Rea, asking him to turn down his music. Rea was allegedly sitting in his car listening to music on his car sound system The police said it was clear that he had been drinking.
However, when they arrived on scene for the third time, the officers parked on the street and started walking up the driveway. At that point the garage door went up and Rea, who was sitting in his Cadillac in the garage, started backing down the driveway. According to responding police officers, Rea drove about 25 feet down the length of his own driveway, but then appeared to change his mind about going out and drove back into his own garage. He never once left his own property.
Rea was believed to be intoxicated at the time.
He was arrested and charged for drunk driving. However, an Oakland County Court judge threw out the charges on the grounds that Rea hadn’t left his own driveway. Upset by this, the Oakland County Prosecuting Attorney appealed the judge’s decision to the Michigan Court of Appeals.
In a 2 to 1 vote, the Appeals Court judges voted to uphold the judge’s decision to dismiss the drunk driving charges. The reasoning behind the appellate court’s ruling was that the law defines drunk driving as driving under the influence of intoxicants in an area that is “generally accessible” to other vehicles. A private driveway by definition, is not considered to be generally accessible, they said.
The Supreme Court periodically hears cases in different locations to give the people of Michigan a chance to watch the court firsthand. This particular case will be heard at Petoskey High School. According to the Supreme Court website, the case was brought to their attention in September of 2016, although by the time this ruling is handed down it will be over three years since the original Oakland County arrest.
Being charged with drunk driving in Michigan, is very serious. However, it doesn’t mean that you’re guilty, or that there’s no hope of a dismissal. As we have always said, the right defense attorney is critical to getting the best outcome for your case! If you or a loved one have been accused of drunk driving, call 866 766 5245 to speak to an experienced drunk driving defense attorney at The Kronzek Firm. We are here for you.