Can You be Charged with a DUI when Trying to Sleep it Off in your Car?

Yes. This type of DUI is known as an actual physical control DUI, which means that although you were not actually driving your vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or another drug, you were inside the vehicle with its keys and could reasonably have driven it.

A prosecutor must prove the following to convict an individual of any type of DUI:

  • He or she was driving or in actual physical control of the vehicle;
  • His or her blood alcohol content was .08% or higher or his or her faculties were impaired; and
  • He or she was under the influence of alcohol or another substance when operating or in actual physical control of the vehicle.

What is Actual Physical Control of a Vehicle?

Actual physical control refers to the possibility that an individual could operate his or her vehicle. Generally, an individual may be charged with an actual physical control DUI if any of the following conditions are met when he or she is arrested:

  • The vehicle is operable. That means that it is a complete vehicle that can be driven. A vehicle that is missing its tires, its engine, or any other key part is not considered to be an operable vehicle;
  • The driver is in the driver’s seat; and/or
  • The driver has possession of the vehicle’s key or otherwise can operate the vehicle. This includes if the key is in the ignition when the individual was arrested, if he or she has it on his or her person, or if the key is close enough that the individual could reasonably pick it up and use it to start the car.

Whether an individual had actual physical control of his or her vehicle can be difficult to prove. In some cases, a charge is tossed out because the court does not have sufficient evidence to prove that the individual could, in fact, have driven his or her car while intoxicated. Talk to your attorney about this and any other possible defenses for your case.

Myths About Actual Physical Control

You might have heard that you cannot be charged with a DUI in Panama City if you are sitting in the back seat of your parked car or if you leave the keys on the ground outside your vehicle. These are simply myths. You can, in fact, be charged with a DUI in either of these circumstances. Similarly, you might have heard that walking away from your car can keep you from being charged with a DUI. Again, this is false. If law enforcement can determine that you were under the influence when you drove your car to its location when you were arrested, you may be charged with a DUI.

Panama City DUI Attorney

For legal advice and representation for your Panama City DUI case, contact Dana Morris at the Morris Law firm on the web or at 850-257-5680. Dana Morris has 15 years of experience practicing law and 12 years handling criminal cases. Do not wait to begin working with the Morris Law Firm to develop a strong defense for your DUI case.