Many people assume that you can only incur a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge if your car is in motion. You’re impaired, you’re behind the wheel and you’re clearly driving somewhere. If the police catch you, they can allege that you were impaired based on your actions or even test your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), before charging you with a DWI.
It’s not always that simple.
Being in control of the car
Generally speaking, what the law prohibits is being impaired while you are “in control” of the car. You don’t necessarily have to be driving to be in a position in which you could’ve controlled the vehicle or where it would’ve been possible for you to drive.
For example, say that a police officer finds your car parked on the side of the road. You are asleep in the driver’s seat with the keys still in the ignition. The car is off and you’re not going anywhere, so you may claim that you were trying to be safe. You didn’t want to keep driving when you realized you were impaired, so you pulled over.
But the police could still give you a DWI because it was still possible for you to drive the car. In fact, there are cases where the police believe people are lying, simply saying they were trying to sleep it off when they were actually about to drive or preparing to drive. As a result, they won’t accept this scenario as an excuse in many cases.
If you really want to be safe, it’s important to make it clear that you have no ability to control a vehicle. For instance, it looks much different to a police officer if they find your car legally parked, the keys in the glove compartment, while you sleep it off in the backseat.
What legal options do you have?
This is just one of the ways that you could be charged with impaired driving that you may find to be unexpected. The ramifications of any kind of DWI can be incredibly serious. It’s very important for you to understand exactly what legal defense options you have if you’re ever facing these charges. Seeking legal guidance immediately is usually the best first step forward.