Remote Vehicle Starters: DUI/OUI laws in Connecticut

In Connecticut, no person shall operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, or any drug, or both.  CGS 14-227a.

Question: What if the key is in the ignition, but the engine is not started?

Answer:  “We [the Connecticut Supreme Court] conclude that the defendant’s act of inserting the key into the ignition constituted operation of a motor vehicle within the meaning of [the statute] § 14-227a (a).”  State of CT vs. Haight, 279 Conn. 546 (2006).

Question:  What if the engine is started by a Remote Starter, but no key is in the ignition?

Answer:  “… the lack of an inserted ignition key is but a temporary impediment to the movement of a remotely started vehicle.  Because such an impediment easily is overcome by insertion of the key, it will not preclude a finding of operation.”  State of CT vs. Cyr, 291 Conn. 49 (2009).

Sleeping in a Vehicle?

Each case is fact specific.  However there are many DUI arrests in Connecticut that involve occupants sleeping in the vehicle, who had not put the vehicle in motion, but who are considered to have violated the statute.  Connecticut court decisions finding that this action constitutes prohibited “operation”, rely on public policy provisions of the statute. Such provisions are “preventive measure [s] … which deter individuals who have been drinking intoxicating liquor from getting into their vehicles, except as passengers … and which enable the drunken driver to be apprehended before he strikes ….” (Citations omitted)  State of CT  vs. Cyr, at 61.