Can You Get a DUI in Utah if the Car is Parked?

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

If you had too much to drink or are heavily medicated, it is always a wise decision to avoid driving. Some individuals who want to avoid a DUI offense will relax or sleep in their vehicles until they feel they can safely operate the vehicle. However, there is always a possibility of receiving a DUI offense even if you are not driving a vehicle. If you or a family member was arrested for driving under the influence while the car was parked, you should consult with an experienced Salt Lake City DUI defense lawyer today. With over 16 years of criminal law experience, Darwin Overson can help you deal with DUI charges. Overson Law’s DUI attorneys explain whether you can get a DUI in Utah if your car is parked.

Can You Be Charged with DUI for Sleeping in a Car While Intoxicated?

Many people are surprised to learn that they can still be charged with a DUI for sleeping or merely sitting in a car while drunk or under the influence of drugs. It would be natural to think an offense for driving under the influence would require the offender to be actively driving. However, Utah’s DUI statute allows law enforcement to arrest you even if you are not driving.

Utah’s DUI statute makes it illegal to have “actual physical control” over a car if a person is at or over the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of .08 grams, or if that person is otherwise under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both. Actual physical control is based on a variety of factors, and these factors will determine whether the DUI charges are valid.

Factors that the court will consider when determining whether a person had actual physical control of a vehicle include the following:

  • Whether the offender was awake or asleep when law enforcement found him
  • How the vehicle was parked
  • Whether the car was turned on when the offender was discovered
  • Whether the car was in hear or in park
  • Whether the offender was sitting in the driver’s seat of the automobile
  • Whether the offender is in the car alone or with another person
  • Whether the offender had the key to the car in his possession
  • Whether the offender had the key in the ignition
  • Whether the defendant was able to start and operate the car at any time
  • Whether the defendant drove the car to the area where law enforcement discovered it

This is not an exclusive list, and there may be other factors considered for non-driving DUI cases.

Additionally, in some cases, it is possible to be charged with DUI for being inside of an inoperable vehicle while intoxicated. The purpose of allowing law enforcement to issue a DUI for a person inside an inoperable car is that Utah wants to pursue offenders who were previously driving an operable vehicle before it stopped or malfunctioned. Especially if the car was recently crashed or is in a location not accessible on foot, it may be obvious that the driver was driving before police found them.

To learn more about Utah’s DUI laws, you should speak with an experienced Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyer.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence in Utah

The penalties for driving under the influence in Utah will depend on your driving record and other circumstances surrounding your case. If you are a first- or second-time DUI offender, you will receive a more lenient sentence than drivers who are repeat offenders or who have a poor driving record.

An individual who violates Utah’s DUI statute for the first or second time will likely be charged with a class B misdemeanor. Class B misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.

If you receive a class B misdemeanor conviction in Utah, you may be offered the opportunity to perform compensatory service to avoid paying a criminal fine. Compensatory service can be performed for several different organizations like Utah government agencies or charities.

Additionally, if you were charged with a DUI, the arresting officer will confiscate your driver’s license and issue you a temporary license for 29 days. The arresting officer should also give you the information necessary to request a hearing within 10 days with Utah’s Driver License Division (DLD). The DLD hearing will determine whether you have your license suspended or reinstated. You can hire an attorney to represent you during this hearing.

If you were convicted of DUI, you will have to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. This device does not allow you to start your car if you are over the BAC limit. Any efforts to tamper with the device or drive another car without an interlock may result in additional penalties for you and anyone who assists you.

Our Salt Lake City Criminal Defense Attorneys are Here to Represent You

If you or a family member was arrested for DUI, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Overson Law, we are dedicated to providing you with the legal representation that you deserve. To schedule a free legal consultation, call us at (801) 895-3143.