Can I Be Charged with DUI When the Car Is Running But I'm Not Driving?

May 15, 2017 — by James E. Novak Attorney PLLC
Tags: Drunk Driving Actual Physical Control

A man drunk and sleeping at the wheel of the carDUI laws can be complicated. In the state of Arizona and the city of Phoenix, there are plenty of considerations when it comes to drunk driving charges and arrest. What's more, actual physical control (APC) debates complicate DUI charges. These APC disputes could lead to people getting charged with drunk driving when when a vehicle is stationary.

Let's explore the issues of actual physical control right now, and offer some insight into these kinds of legal disputes.

Liberal Interpretations of "Drunk Driving"

Sometimes people are charged with drunk driving even when they are not driving at all. We've heard of cases in which people are issued a DUI for sleeping behind the wheel of their car. A person may not even be driving but just sitting behind the wheel listening to radio, running the air conditioning, or using their phone. Even in these cases, a person may be charged with a DUI.

Rather than fight these cases in court, people may instead accept their drunk driving charges without dispute.

The Issue of Actual Physical Control (APC)

"Actual physical control" is the reason people may be charged with drunk driving even when a vehicle isn't running. Being in physical control of a vehicle means that the person behind the wheel could pose a potential threat to others. The wording is vague, which gives law enforcement a lot of leeway for its interpretation. Some reads of the law are more lenient than others, which could spell trouble for a person trying to abide by the law and avoid driving while drunk.

Factors That Help Determine Actual Physical Control

To determine actual physical control, a court may consider the following factors:

  • Was the vehicle running?
  • Were the keys in the ignition?
  • Where was the driver sitting?
  • Where was the vehicle parked?
  • What time of day was it?
  • What was the weather/temperature?

How to Safeguard Yourself from DUI Charges

To avoid getting embroiled in a debate over actual physical control, it's important that you play things safe when you're trying to abide by the law. Consider the following tips:

  • Consider getting a ride from a friend
  • Hire a cab or car to get home
  • Try to sober up outside of your vehicle
  • Do not put the keys in the ignition if possible
  • Make sure the vehicle is safely parked
  • Avoid sitting or resting in the driver's seat

How a Drunk Driving Attorney Can Help You

These questions of physical control can be complex and academic, which means having a skilled attorney on your side can help you build a winning defense. A DUI attorney knows how the drunk driving laws work, and can note various circumstances of your case that can help get charges reduced or thrown out. We will work with you every step of the way, offering expert counsel and providing peace of mind.

Speak with an Experienced DUI Attorney

For more information about your legal options in a drunk driving case, be sure to contact an experience DUI defense lawyer today. Our team will work with you to help fight charges, reduce penalties, and help ensure you receive a fair shake from the law.

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