It is not always clear whether or not you are legally safe to be in your vehicle after drinking, even if you do not believe that you are actually "driving" the vehicle. There are a number of factors to consider before you get behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking, even if you simply need to rest for a while and wait for sobriety to return. In some cases, you may face DUI charges without actually operating the vehicle on a road.
Practically speaking, it is strange to think that a person could receive DUI charges if he or she is simply sitting in a vehicle, ostensibly seeking shelter and rest. However, there are numerous examples of individuals who allegedly violate some small portion of DUI law and find themselves unexpectedly facing charges they thought they were intentionally avoiding.
A number of factors may come into play in such a scenario. The suspect in question may not technically be driving the vehicle, but the vehicle may still be in a roadway, creating some liability. Similarly, if the suspect is resting or seeking shelter in the driver's seat rather than a passenger's seat, law enforcement may interpret this positioning unfairly.
It is also important to consider the location to the keys to the vehicle. Criminal charges may hang on this small detail if the keys are in the ignition to the vehicle rather than in a console compartment or even in a suspect's pocket or purse. It is also worth considering whether or not the vehicle itself is operational. A suspect may successfully challenge DUI charges if he or she demonstrates that the vehicle itself is inoperable and could not have actually posed any danger to others.
If you recently received surprising DUI charges for some similar technicality violation, an attorney can help you understand your rights. You may have a number of grounds to fight these charges and keep your rights protected.
Source: FindLaw, "Elements of a DUI Offense," accessed Jan. 12, 2018