Law Offices of Thomas C. Mooney - Criminal Defense
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Asleep at the wheel? You could be charged with DUI

The party went way too long, and you drank way too much. You got in your car, drove around the corner, realized you were too drunk to drive and did the right thing: You reclined your seat and went to sleep. You awakened to a loud rap on your window. It's a cop. You roll down your window and he asks if you're okay. You tell him the truth: You were too drunk to drive, so you went to sleep instead. The next thing you know, you are at the station--being booked on a DUI.

It sounds too incredible to be true. But it is. Courts have held that as long as you are in control of the vehicle, and have a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit, you may be charged with DUI.

How can I be driving if the car isn't moving?

It doesn't make sense, does it? How can you be "driving" when the car is not moving, let alone on? And what does "control of the vehicle" mean? You aren't in control if you are sound asleep, right?

There are two key issues that come into play. The first is whether you had been driving from someplace else, and the second is, where are the keys?

In the scenario above, you only went a short distance. But as soon as the cop realized that you had actually moved the car while you were intoxicated, the length you drove is irrelevant. The law doesn't care if you drove 2 feet or 2 miles. You were operating a car under the influence. Not only that, but you have made the cops job that much easier--you have actually admitted to the crime.

You said something about keys?

In similar scenarios, courts have also upheld DUI convictions based on the location of the vehicle's keys. Were they in the car's ignition? You are in physical control of the car. Were they in your pocket? If the keys are in your pocket, the courts also deem that you are in control of the car.

It's a difficult, and seemingly unfair, scenario isn't it? You try to do the right thing to avoid a DUI and you end up charged with one anyway. The good news is that an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the court system and lobby on your behalf.

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