Can You Get a DUI in Utah if Your Car is Turned Off?

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

Most defendants charged with a DUI are pulled over by the police while driving on the roads or highways. The police tend to stop drivers who are driving dangerously or erratically for DUI suspicions. However, not every DUI stems from an incident on the road. In some cases, drivers are charged with DUIs while their cars are still parked. You may even be charged when your car is completely off.

Believe it or not, driving on the road is not required to be charged with a DUI. Generally, a person can be charged with a DUI if they are intoxicated and have actual physical control over their vehicle. How actual physical control is defined is a little fuzzy and may depend on the circumstances surrounding your case. If the police believe you had physical control over your vehicle while drunk, you may be charged with a DUI even if your car was turned off.

DUIs can be somewhat subjective and based on the observations and beliefs of the arresting officer. You can be charged with a DUI even though your car is off, but you also have a lot of room to defend yourself in such a case. Call our Park City DUI defense lawyers for assistance and advice. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 to set up a free legal consultation.

Getting a DUI in Utah Without Driving Your Car

Most DUIs likely occur on the roads while the defendant was actually driving their car. However, the police have been known to arrest people for DUIs in parked cars or even cars that are turned off. This may seem strange, but if the police see an intoxicated person inside a vehicle, they can investigate even if the vehicle is not turned on. The police might suspect you of having recently driven the car while intoxicated.

DUI charges do not require that the defendant be driving their car. Instead, these charges require that the defendant be sufficiently intoxicated and had actual physical control over the vehicle. This may be demonstrated by an intoxicated defendant sleeping inside their car while it was parked and turned off.

A person could be charged with a DUI even though their car is off based on the engine’s temperature. If a police officer spots a person they suspect is drunk inside a parked vehicle, they will want to investigate. The officer may place their hand on the hood of the vehicle to test the temperature. A warm engine may indicate the car was very recently driven, and if no one else was around, it is likely the intoxicated person was the driver.

If you were charged with a DUI despite your vehicle being turned off, call our Ogden DUI defense attorneys right away. We can help you fight your charges and get your license back.

How Utah Law Defines “Actual Physical Control” Over a Vehicle

Actual physical control is defined rather vaguely under the law. Typically, actual physical control is determined by the “totality of the circumstances.” This phrase means that there is no list of specific factors used to determine actual physical control and that the factors used to determine control in one case may not apply in another. Whether or not you were in physical control of your vehicle will be based on the unique circumstances of your individual case.

The police are free to use their own subjective observations to determine actual physical control. The example mentioned previously about using the temperature of the car’s engine to tell if it has been driven recently is one such observation. Other observations could include whether you were in the driver’s seat or the passenger seat, where your car was parked, and where the car keys were located.

There are several factors, however, that will negate actual physical control if they are all present together. According to the Utah Traffic Code § 41-6a-501, actual physical control does not include situations where the suspect is asleep in the vehicle, the suspect is not in the driver’s seat, the engine is turned off, the vehicle is lawfully parked, and it is clear the person did not drive the car to its current location while intoxicated. For instance, choosing to sleep in your car instead of driving drunk should not be punished with a DUI (though sleeping in your car might lead to other charges). If this sounds very similar to your case, you may be able to fight your DUI charges. Call our Riverton Dui defense lawyers for help.

Reasons You May be Charged with a DUI in Utah Even Though Your Car is Off

Many different circumstances could lead to you getting a DU even though your vehicle is turned off. In most of these circumstances, the police will need some reason to believe you have just recently driven the vehicle while you were intoxicated. Simply being inside a car while intoxicated is not a criminal offense.

There could be any number of clues the police can use to arrest you for a DUI. For example, if you are drunk inside a parked car in the parking lot of a bar, it is possible you drove the car to the bar before becoming intoxicated. However, if you are parked on the side of the highway, the police may suspect you drove the car after leaving a bar and pulled over. In such a case, it does not matter that the police did not witness you driving. They can put the pieces of the puzzle together and arrest you.

The location of the keys to your car is also vital to your case. If the keys were in the ignition, or even just in your hands, you could be charged with a DUI. However, if you stored the keys in the back seat or the glove box, you can argue that you did not have actual physical control of the vehicle because you could not reach the keys. Speak with our Sandy DUI defense attorneys for more information.

Contact Our Utah DUI Defense Attorneys for Help

If you have been charged with a DUI in Utah even though your vehicle was not turned on, you should call a lawyer for help. The fact that your vehicle was off meant the officer who arrested you might not have had the strongest basis for probable cause. In fact, you may have a better chance at defending yourself in court. Call our Utah DUI defense lawyers at Overson Law, PLLC, at (801) 758-2287.

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