It’s not a stupid question! Even though DUI refers to Driving Under the Influence, it is possible to be charged with a DUI offense even if you weren’t driving. DUI charges rely on two main factors:
- The amount of intoxicating substance in your bloodstream
- Your potential ability to physically control or operate a motor vehicle.
DrivingLaws issues an important reminder that you could be arrested for a DUI even if you are not driving, saying “If you have actual, physical control of the vehicle while under the influence, then that can be enough for an officer to arrest you. Generally, actual, physical control means that the driver is in the car and could make it move. Even if the driver is asleep when the officer arrives on the scene, the potential that he or she could wake up and drive has been enough for a Louisiana court to decide that the driver had actual physical control.”
Even if you weren’t actually driving, being intoxicated could result in being charged with a DUI offense in situations including but not limited to the following:
- You fall asleep intoxicated in a car. You are much more likely to be charged with a DUI if you sit or sleep in the driver’s seat of a car while intoxicated. According to Nolo, DUI laws aim to prevent drunk driving before it begins, and “a motorist who’s drunk in the front seat with the keys in the ignition is just a few quick motions away from putting the car in gear and driving away.” Judges look at practical factors while determining DUI convictions – an intoxicated person who was asleep in a back seat with the vehicle’s engine turned off will generally not be as likely to receive DUI penalties as someone who is found intoxicated while slumped over the steering wheel with the motor running.
- As an intoxicated passenger, you’re involved in an accident but the police determine that you were driving or in control of the vehicle.
- You’re intoxicated and standing outside or nearby a vehicle, and police determine that evidence points to you being the driver at fault. Nolo explains that while determining whether an intoxicated person was operating a vehicle or not, judges look at factors such as whether the driver was awake or asleep when the cops showed up, whether the car’s motor was running, the location of the car keys, how close the driver was to the steering wheel, and more.
There are many more similar and equally complex and potentially convoluted situations where you might be unfairly charged or convicted of a DUI offense even though you were not driving. Due to the complexity of DUI laws, it’s critical to have an experienced attorney backing your case. If you’re facing a DUI charge of any kind, don’t hesitate to get the legal representation you deserve! Call us at 225-343-2205 or contact us online.
Miller, Hampton & Hilgendorf
3960 Government St.
Baton Rouge, LA 70806