Can I Get a DUI in a Parked Car?

To be convicted of a DUI-DWI charge, the State has to prove each of the “elements” of each offense against you beyond a reasonable doubt.

An “element” (one of the essential components of the criminal offense) is an essential part of the offense charged. For example, “driving” is a central element in most common law DUI-DWI cases, even though many states have expanded “driving” by also covering “actual physical control” to cover situations where driving has ceased, but strong evidence exists that the car was recently driven (or is observed with the engine still running).

This means that even if the State can prove that you were intoxicated, they still have to prove that you were either “driving,” “operating” or in “actual physical control” of your vehicle at the time of your intoxication. Thus, while it is illegal to be driving while intoxicated, it may not be a crime in your state to be “sleeping off” your intoxication in the driver’s seat of your car if it doesn’t move, the engine is not running, or the key is not in the ignition.

Decisional law indicates that being out of the driver’s seat (sleeping in the rear passenger area) or not having access to the ignition key (possibly locked in the trunk) will create better facts to show lack of “actual physical control” of the vehicle.

If your DUI criminal defense attorney can show to the court that the State cannot prove any one element of a DUI-DWI charge against you, then the entire charge typically can be defeated. Often, prosecutors are hesitant to reduce or dismiss these cases. This is why the best DUI-DWI attorneys challenge any inconsistencies in the police reports and investigate these cases thoroughly. Your attorney will need to know every fact that you can remember about the entire day leading up to your arrest, and also everything that was done and said after you were handcuffed.

No detail is too minor to ignore. We have gotten charges reduced on what seemed like an insignificant fact at the time.