Featured News 2018 Physical Control & DUI

Physical Control & DUI

You are drunk and know you cannot drive. You also know you cannot leave your car alone, so you decide to sleep it off. You drift off to sleep in the driver's seat only to be startled by a cop at your window. After explaining the situation, you are surprised to find yourself accused of being in "physical control" of a vehicle.

But what does this mean exactly?

Explanation of Physical Control

Physical control is a subsection of the law that pertains to driving while under the influence. Physical control is a positive or negative determination of a person's control of a vehicle while drunk. The goal of a physical control charge is not to determine if someone was driving while under the influence, but if that person's proximity to the controls of the motor vehicle suggests that they would have driven while under the influence. In other words, physical control is a grey area of DUI law that tries to dissuade drunk people from ever getting in the driver's seat in the first place.

How Is Someone Charged with Physical Control?

States have different views on what constitutes physical control and how physical control should be charged. It should also be noted that even within states, physical control cases can be handled differently depending on the circumstances. For example, the courts may treat a physical control scenario where the inebriated was in the driver's seat with the keys in the ignition differently than a physical control charge where the defendant was sleeping in the back seat. Therefore, physical control charges are difficult to compare given the extensive range of circumstances.

Circumstances that affect physical control scenarios include:

  • Where the defendant was in the vehicle when he was charged
  • Where the ignition key was found in the car
  • If the engine was running
  • Where the vehicle was parked and how it got there
  • Whether or not the vehicle is driveable
  • How easily the defendant could fix the vehicle if it were unable to run

Each of these circumstances can play a role in determining if a physical control charge will stand in court. If you or a loved one have been charged with physical control then hiring an experienced DUI lawyer can help you get your case dismissed. Since physical control situations have so many variables, having a practiced DUI attorney on your side can help the judge see that you were trying to do the right thing.

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