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Can You Be Charged With a DUI If You Were Not Driving?

Charges for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) are typically charged when an intoxicated driver is pulled over by the police while driving. However, drivers can also be charged with DUIs when not driving. The key to DUI charges is not necessarily driving but proving actual physical control over the vehicle.

A DUI, sometimes known as a DWI (driving while intoxicated), can be charged whether or not the defendant was actually driving the vehicle. Charges may be assessed if the defendant had control over the vehicle while intoxicated with controlled substances or alcohol. The police will need evidence showing you were in actual physical control of the vehicle at some point while intoxicated.

DUI charges can have a lasting negative impact on numerous aspects of your life. Our DUI defense attorneys can help you fight your charges and get your life back. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free case review.

Being Charged with a DUI When You Were Not Driving a Vehicle

Perhaps a defendant had previously been driving under the influence and parked their car before the police found them. If the police suspect the intoxicated individual had recently been driving, they may investigate the situation. If the police have evidence that a defendant had actual physical control over the vehicle, DUI charges may be assessed.

The police need proof that you had actual physical control of the vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Of course, actual physical control can be found when a driver is behind the wheel of a running vehicle. However, you do not necessarily have to be driving to have control. For example, if a defendant is found to be intoxicated, their parked car’s engine is still warm, and they have the keys, the police might have enough probable cause to make an arrest.

Arrests for DUIs where a defendant was not driving are more likely where the police believe the intoxication and driving happened so close together that they had to overlap. Defendants often claim they began drinking after they parked their car, but a high BAC and a warm car engine might suggest the defendant was intoxicated while driving. Law enforcement typically must perform a chemical test, such as a blood draw, within 2 hours of your driving to prove their case. The more time you can put between parking your car and ingesting alcohol, the better your defense.

Our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys can help you fight your charges. The fact that you were not driving when the police arrested you likely means the prosecutor already has a weak case. Any evidence that demonstrates you did not have actual physical control over the vehicle may help you fight the charges.

Evidence The Police Can Use to Charge You with a DUI Even Though You Were Not Driving

The evidence needed for a DUI where the defendant was not driving when they encountered the police is different from typical DUI evidence. Although, the police still need some typical evidence, like the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and evidence of control over the vehicle. Our Bucks County criminal defense attorneys can help you challenge any evidence against you.

Some other evidence includes the temperature of the vehicle. A car that was recently driven will probably still be warm. If a DUI suspect is too intoxicated to drive, their parked car has a warm engine, and the suspect has the keys, the police may believe the suspect was driving under the influence.

One key piece of evidence is the location of the keys. If the keys are with the defendant, it will be easier for the police to establish actual physical control. If the defendant left their car keys elsewhere and slept in the back of their car after a night out with drinks, it may be harder for DUI charges to stick.

The police can also use your proximity to your vehicle to support a DUI arrest. Typically, a driver must be in close proximity to their car to be charged with a DUI. For example, if a defendant was intoxicated standing outside their car with the keys in hand and the car’s engine is still warm, the police might suspect they were driving under the influence. If that same defendant was up the street from where they parked the car, it will be harder for law enforcement to justify an arrest.

Fighting DUI Charges When You Were Not Driving

A DUI case against a defendant who was not driving when they were arrested is shaky at best. Even if the police have evidence that the defendant had been driving shortly before they encountered them, the charges might not stick. Our Delaware County criminal defense lawyers can help you challenge the evidence in your case and hopefully get the charges dropped.

Evidence unlawfully obtained can be suppressed and may not be used against you. Unlawful evidence includes anything seized or obtained in violation of your rights. For example, if the police physically force you to submit to a breath test, your BAC results can be suppressed because law enforcement cannot physically force you to comply with testing.

There might also be a more reasonable explanation for your case. Maybe you consumed a high volume of alcohol rather quickly after driving, such as one might do at a party. Passengers can testify you were not intoxicated while driving.

Perhaps the police were able to establish probable cause to arrest you for a DUI, but there is very little additional evidence. More than just probable cause is required to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The more doubt we can raise, such as putting distance between you and the vehicle or disproving actual control, the better.

Contact Our DUI Defense Attorneys for Help

If you were recently charged with a DUI even though you were not driving at the time, our Montgomery County criminal defense attorneys can help you fight your case. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free case evaluation.