If you have been charged with DUI, it means that you are being accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. But, it’s important to understand that you do not actually have to be driving in order to be charged with this crime.
The law does not define “driving,” but it does define the word “driver.” According to Colorado state law, a driver means any person who either drives or is in physical control of the vehicle. Look closely at this definition. The word “or” here indicates that the driver does not have to be actually driving the vehicle in order to be charged with DUI as long as he is in physical control of the vehicle at the time of his arrest.
The law does not define “physical control,” which means this is open to interpretation by police officers and the courts. You may think that the state would need to prove that the vehicle was in motion at the time, but that’s not the case. In 1986, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that it was not necessary to prove that the vehicle was moving in order to establish that someone was in physical control of the vehicle.
So, what does it mean to be in physical control of the vehicle? Physical control of a vehicle is typically determined by one or more of these factors:
- The defendant’s location in the car
- Whether or not the keys were in the ignition
- Whether or not the engine was running
- The location of the vehicle
- Any other factors that lead law enforcement officers to believe that you had the intention or the ability to put the car in motion.
Based on this loose definition of physical control, it’s possible for someone to be arrested when he is not driving. In fact, if you decide to start your car and take a nap in the driver’s seat while intoxicated, a police officer can arrest you for driving under the influence. In this case, sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition may be enough to show that you were in physical control of the car.
Many innocent people are accused of driving under the influence even when they were not actually driving their cars. If this happens to you, let an experienced criminal defense attorney at Reisch Law Firm fight the charges that have been filed against you. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.