The State of Arizona has some of the toughest driving under the influence (DUI) laws in the country. While you may think that the only way for a DUI arrest to occur is to be actively driving your car, it is actually possible to face DUI charges without driving. This is the case if you were in control of the vehicle. The penalties for this type of DUI would be the same as if you actually drove. As a result, it’s important to understand the law regarding actual physical control DUI charges in Arizona. You should also have an experienced attorney on your side if charged with this crime.
Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 28-1381
states that you can be charged with DUI if you are in “actual physical control” of a motor vehicle while you are impaired to the slightest degree by drugs or alcohol. This means that even if you are not actively driving, you could face criminal charges if the court determines you were in control of the vehicle.
What Does Actual Physical Control Mean?
There are several ways that the court can determine if you are in actual physical control of your vehicle, even if you are not driving.
Some factors that influence whether you were legally in control of the vehicle include:
- Were you in the driver’s seat? Being in the driver’s seat may be evidence against you in a DUI case.
- Is the car running? If you have been drinking and the car is running, no matter what seat you are in, law enforcement may consider you to be in actual physical control.
- Did you have the keys? Even if your engine was off at the time of your arrest, you may face DUI charges if your keys were in the ignition, your hand, or your pocket.
- Where was your car located? If you have parked your car in the middle of the road, blocking another motorist or someone’s personal property such as a driveway, an officer can assume that you had to have been driving to get there. That also counts as you having actual physical control.
A Possible Defense Against DUI Without Driving
If you have been arrested and charged with an actual physical control DUI in Arizona, one defense that your attorney could use is that you were using your car as a stationary shelter. Arizona courts have set the precedent that it is lawful to use your car as a stationary shelter. This is true even if you have been drinking. However, you must not pose a threat to the public by the exercise of present or imminent control.
One example of this is leaving a bar to sleep in your car in the parking lot to sober up. To get comfortable, you may start your car to put on the air conditioning or heat. Your attorney may be able to prove in court that you were using your car as shelter and did not intend to drive.
Are You Facing Charges for DUI?
DUI charges can be overwhelming under any circumstances. You may feel even more frustrated and confused if you were not actually driving your vehicle. Our criminal defense attorneys can help you understand the facts of your case and will fight to achieve the best possible outcome for you.
If you have been charged with DUI without driving, contact us today for a free consultation.