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Criminal Jury Instructions

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8.3-5  Drinking while Operating Motor Vehicle -- § 53a-213

Revised to May 10, 2012

The defendant is charged [in count __] with drinking while operating a motor vehicle.  The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent part as follows: 

a person is guilty of drinking while operating a motor vehicle when (he/she) drinks any alcoholic liquor while operating a motor vehicle <insert as appropriate:>

  • upon any public highway of the state.

  • upon any road of any specially chartered municipal association or any district, a purpose of which is the construction and maintenance of roads and sidewalks.

  • in any parking area for ten cars or more.

  • upon any private road on which a speed limit has been established.

  • upon any school property.

For you to find the defendant guilty of this charge, the state must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

Element 1 - Operated a motor vehicle
The first element is that the defendant operated a motor vehicle. "Motor vehicle" includes any vehicle used on a public highway.1

A person "operates" a motor vehicle within the meaning of the statute when, while in the vehicle, such person intentionally does any act or makes use of any mechanical or electrical agency that alone, or in sequence, will set in motion the motive power of the vehicle.  A person acts "intentionally" with respect to conduct when (his/her) conscious objective is to engage in such conduct.  <See Intent: General, Instruction 2.3-1.>

Element 2 - On certain roadways
The second element is that the defendant was operating the motor vehicle <insert as appropriate:>

  • upon any public highway of the state. This includes any state or other public highway, road, street, avenue, alley, driveway, parkway or place, under the control of the state or any political subdivision of the state, opened to the public for travel or other use.2
  • upon any road of a specially chartered municipal association or district, a purpose of which is the construction and maintenance of roads and sidewalks.3
  • in any parking area for ten cars or more. "Parking area" includes lots, areas or other accommodations for the parking of motor vehicles off the street or highway and open to public use with or without charge.4
  • upon any private road on which a speed limit has been established.5
  • any school property.

Element 3 - While drinking alcohol
The third element is that while operating a motor vehicle, the defendant drank alcoholic liquor.  "Alcoholic liquor" is defined by statute and includes alcohol, beer, spirits and wine and every liquid or solid, patented or not, containing alcohol, spirits, wine or beer and capable of being consumed by a human being for beverage purposes.  The definition does not apply to any liquid or solid containing less than one-half of one per cent of alcohol by volume.

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant operated a motor vehicle, 2) on <insert alleged location>, and 3) (he/she) drank alcoholic liquor while operating the motor vehicle.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of drinking while operating a motor vehicle, then you shall find the defendant guilty.  On the other hand, if you unanimously find that the state has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements, you shall then find the defendant not guilty.
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1 A General Statutes § 14-212 (5).

2 General Statutes § 14-212 (1) adopts the definition of “highway” in General Statutes § 14-1 (39). “The plain meaning of the word ‘highway’ is ‘a main road or thoroughfare; hence, a road or way open to the use of the public.’” (Internal quotation marks omitted.) State v. Harrison, 30 Conn. App. 108, 118 (1993). Thus, "[t]he expression `private highway' is a misnomer and `public highway' is tautology." Stavola v. Palmer, 136 Conn. 670, 684 (1950). The dictionary definition of highway is “any road freely open to everyone; public road.”

3 Municipalities may charter municipal associations or special districts for various purposes, one of which is the construction and maintenance of roads and sidewalks. See General Statutes § 7-326.

4 General Statutes § 14-212 (6).

5 The speed limit on a private road is established pursuant to General Statutes § 14-218a.


 

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