Driving under the influence is a serious offense with severe consequences. However, an officer must have probable cause to believe that you were driving under the influence to arrest you. The lack of probable cause makes it difficult for the state to convict you of a DUI, whether police officers found you in or outside the car.
An area that raises ambiguity is whether you can be arrested and charged with DUI for merely sitting in your car while intoxicated. Simply put, several factors may come into play in this situation. A Colorado criminal defense law firm can evaluate the situation and advise you on the legal options.
How Does Colorado Define Driving?
Colorado DUI law defines a driver as a person who has physical control of the vehicle. Besides, the ability to operate and provide the physical influence of direction over a car are other factors that must be accounted for when determining if a person has actual physical control over the vehicle. Other factors unique to the situation also come into play when defining physical control.
How Can I Be Arrested for DUI While Parked?
There’s a common belief that driving under the influence implies that the accused was driving. Based on this misconception, you can get a DUI charge, as a moving car isn’t the only thing that qualifies you as a driver. The prosecutor must prove that you were driving to be convicted of the offense.
So, even if you were taking time to sober up in your car, you could still get a DUI while parked in the vehicle, sleeping in your car, or on private property. Defending yourself can be complex, but a Colorado Springs DUI lawyer can investigate the case and help you create a winning defense strategy.
What Does an Officer Look for in DUI for a Car That Was Not Moving?
Getting arrested for a DUI while parked in your car is governed by the principle of “actual physical control.” It means the ability to control the vehicle, even if it’s not being driven at the time. It could mean that you were sitting in the driver’s seat without the intention to drive but had the capability to drive at that time.
Whether you get convicted depends on the circumstances of the case, some being the following:
Car Keys in the Ignition
You may not have started the car at the time of the arrest, but it doesn’t mean that you didn’t have the intention to do so. The fact that an officer found the car keys in the ignition implies you had the intent to drive when you entered the car, at least in the eyes of the law enforcers.
Worse still, if the car is still running, even if your intention is to play music, you’re more likely to get arrested. All these factors are crucial in determining your actual physical control of the vehicle. When put together, they can be enough to get you charged with a DUI while parked. You could get an order to install an ignition lock as your penalty if convicted.
Asleep in the Driver’s Seat
You intended to sleep off your overindulgence but chose the wrong seat. The officer had the right to arrest you after seeing you in this position because of the assumption that you got behind the wheel intending to drive. The officer did not know if you passed out while trying to start the car or just wanted to sleep it off.
This type of arrest often happens when another person calls the police after spotting someone sleeping in the driver’s seat of a parked car. Your DUI lawyer in Colorado Springs has a better chance of defending you if the officer didn’t see you drive and made the arrest based on a phone call.
Where the Car is Parked
If a police officer finds you parked on the side of the road, including your driveway, you could be arrested for a DUI as opposed to being parked at the bar parking lot, although this also happens often. The officer might assume you drove to your destination while intoxicated because you had to get there.
If the Police Officer Determines Your Intent to Drive
If you tried to start the car but then dozed off or decided to sleep it off, the keys in the ignition could be a reason for the police to assume you intended to drive. The police will have to prove that you were driving or had the intention to drive, which may be hard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
How Can I Avoid a DUI While Parked Arrest
The best thing you can do to avoid a DUI arrest while parked is to avoid being in your vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or when intoxicated. If you must be in your car, ensure the keys remain with the bartender.
If you have been drinking, never have your keys in the vehicle even if you are just sitting in it or retrieving something from it. Never repark your vehicle while you have been drinking (the parking ticket will be cheaper than a DUI). Most importantly, remember to have a designated driver or use a Lyft or Uber to go home.
A DUI lawyer in Colorado Springs can help you defend yourself if you are arrested for a DUI without driving. The best legal defenses to help you get charges dropped are based on the technicalities of the police report. Your attorney can also help you challenge the predetermined officer’s bias of DUI concerning your actual intent to operate a parked vehicle.
Protect Your Rights Today with Skilled Representation
Being arrested for a DUI while your car is parked can be frightening. Proving your innocence can be complex, and a conviction can get you a jail term, hefty penalties, years of probation, or an ignition interlock installed on your vehicle. A Colorado Springs DUI attorney can aggressively defend you to have the charges dropped or reduced.
Our law firm has skilled and experienced DUI attorneys who can provide the legal representation you need in your DUI case. We take pride in being a top-rated law firm that helps clients build a winning DUI defense. Contact us today to protect your rights and freedom.