Let’s say you went out with friends and got a couple of drinks, but then you belatedly realized that you’ve had too much and decided to give yourself some time to sober up while resting inside your car. Or maybe you had this realization when you’ve already taken off and decided to park on a street and sleep for a bit.
Although you might be thinking that you’re being responsible for pulling over and not driving while intoxicated, this could still result in a DUI charge should a law enforcement officer spots you inside your car. In many parts of Washington like Marysville, criminal defense attorneys noted that this is referred to as the “actual physical control” of a vehicle.
Defining “Actual Physical Control”
An “actual physical control” means that an individual should be on or inside the car (physically) and could operate it even if they were operating the car (or not) at the time of arrest. In general, the following factors could come into play when a law enforcement officer is deliberating whether an individual is in actual physical control of a car or not:
- Possessing the car keys or any evidence that you could still operate your car without the key. Putting the keys outside your car would still count as having physical control.
- Your location, whether on or inside the car.
- If you could possibly drive away at any time.
- If your car was located at a place that you could’ve driven it to.
- If the hood was warm, the lights were turned on, and the engine is running.
- Whether or not your car was operable.
Other Important Things to Remember
Put simply, drinking and then driving (regardless of distance) is never a good idea. The Washington State imposes severe DUI penalties that could easily change the course of your life. And as mentioned above, sleeping it off or sobering up inside your car is also not a good idea as you could still be charged with DUI if you are caught.
That said, don’t drink and drive. If you must drink, make sure there’s a designated driver in your group, you can get an Uber or a cab, or have someone else fetch you. Otherwise, in the unfortunate event that you are arrested for a DUI, seek help from an experienced lawyer.