Colorado Springs Parked Car DUI Attorneys
Incredible as it may seem, you can be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs when you are not actually driving. Police can charge you with DUI if you are sitting in a parked car while under the influence. To convict you however, law enforcement must prove that you were driving. A driver is defined under Colorado DUI law as a person who has physical control of the vehicle.
For DUI in a parked car, police officers will look for signs that you had physical control over the vehicle. As no single factor will be enough to prove this, charges could be made at the discretion of the arresting officer. Regardless of your actual intentions at the time, the officer’s perception of your intention and ability to operate the parked vehicle will factor into your case. Questions to be considered include:
- Were the keys in the ignition?
- Was the engine running?
- Were you sitting in the driver’s seat?
- Where was the vehicle parked?
The legal concept under which you can be arrested for DUI while sitting in a parked vehicle is actual physical control. This means having the ability to drive the vehicle, even though it is not being driven at the time. If you were under the influence and sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car with the engine off, you could be arrested for DUI even if you had no intention of driving, because you had the capability of driving at that time.
This legal rule applies if you are parked on the side of the road, in a parking lot, and even on private property. In fact, you are more likely to be arrested for DUI if you are found under the influence in a vehicle parked in your own driveway than you would be in the parking lot of a bar or club. This is because police officers will assume you operated your vehicle while intoxicated to get home.
When you are sitting in a parked vehicle, police may consider it evidence of parked car DUI if:
- You are sitting in the driver’s seat.
- The keys are in the ignition or somewhere easily accessible to you: Keeping your keys close shows intention to drive.
- The engine is running: Even if you are only running the engine to stay warm or to listen to music, police will consider this evidence of your intention to drive.
- The engine or the tires are still warm.
- The car is in drive.
Depending on the circumstances of the case, legal defenses against parked car DUI may include:
- Inoperable vehicle: If your car is incapable of being driven (and not because of a crash caused by your intoxication), you cannot be convicted of parked car DUI.
- No probable cause: Police officers need probable cause to stop you or arrest you unless they have reason to believe you have committed a crime, you are in the process of committing a crime, or you or someone with you needs help. If you were sitting peacefully in your vehicle, police may have had no probable cause to investigate or detain you.
If you have been charged with parked car DUI, contact The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. at (719) 475-2555. Our experienced Colorado Springs DUI attorney can evaluate the incident to fight the charges.