Why was I arrested for DUI if I was not driving?
Unfortunately, the term 'drunk driving' can be a bit of a misnomer. When drivers think of drunken driving they generally assume they can only be arrested and convicted for DUI if they are actually driving their car. But what many drivers do not know is that when it comes to DUI laws, state laws differ in what they consider drunken driving. For instance, many states have laws which are a bit more broad, allowing a driver to be charged with DUI if the prosecution can prove the driver had "actual physical control of the car" or the ability to drive the automobile to or from that location.
What does physical control of the car mean? Unfortunately, this definition seems to still be up for debate in some states. For instance, in some states you can be arrested if you are sitting in the car with the keys in the ignition. Some states may argue, however, that merely sitting in the driver's seat may be enough to prove actual physical control.
Unfortunately, with such a broad definition even drivers who are attempting to do the right thing by pulling over to the side of the road and "sleeping it off" may find that they could be punished for making the morally responsible decision not to endanger the lives of others.
So what does this mean for you? If you are sitting in a car, even outside of your house, and you have the keys in the ignition and the car is on, even if you have no intention of driving your car, you can be arrested for drunk driving. If you are physically in the vehicle and you have the capability to operate the vehicle, even if you are not currently operating the vehicle, you can be arrested for DUI. In this case some drivers have had success finding video which can prove they had been in the car for several hours and had no intention of driving. Other drivers put their car keys in another location such as the trunk if they are going to sleep in their cars. But of course the best protection against getting a DUI charge is to avoid drinking and driving, and instead, find alternate transportation if you are intoxicated and cannot safely operate your vehicle.
If you have questions about the validity of your DUI arrest or if you need help proving you did not have actual physical control of your car, talk to a DUI lawyer for more information about the laws in your state.
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Category: Criminal Law