DUI in a Parked Car Laws

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Can I Get a DUI While Parked?

Absolutely. An individual can receive a DUI while their automobile is parked.

How Can Someone Who Was Not Driving Be Issued a DUI?

It seems backwards that someone can be arrested for "driving under the influence" if they were not actually driving. In fact, most state laws on DUI only make mention of driving under the influence. Still, the police have no idea if the person was about to drive or not, and in the interests of public safety, many courts look at whether the driver was attempting to drive or reasonably could have been driving, and permit prosecution accordingly.

For example, suppose that someone has had too much to drink, and have decided to sit in the driver's seat to sleep it off. A police officer knocks on their window and requests that they perform a field sobriety test. The person fails, and the police officer issues a DUI. This is largely because the officer has reasonable suspicion that the individual was driving or was about to drive, as the person was in control of the vehicle. Thus, the main issue is whether a court could reasonably determine that an individual was about to operate their vehicle. 

What Does "Reasonably Determine a Person Was about to Operate a Vehicle" Mean?

Courts will typically look to all of the circumstances when making their determination as to whether a person was about to operate a vehicle. Suppose the vehicles lights were on, the parking brake released, and the keys were in the ignition. These are indicators that an individual was about to operate their vehicle and would be reasonable grounds for charging a person with a DUI. 

Can I Prevent a Police Officer from Issuing a DUI?

Individuals that consume large amounts of alcohol can take reasonable steps to prevent a DUI from ever being issued.  These steps include:

Should I Consult an Attorney?

If you are facing a DUI, a criminal defense attorney will be vital. A lawyer can help to evaluate the evidence against you, determine whether the field sobriety tests were administered correctly, and if you were parked, can attempt to undermine the officer's determination of probable cause.

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Last Modified: 08-12-2014 04:55 PM PDT

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