Can You Get a DUI While Not Driving in Arizona?

The definition of driving under influence – DUI in Arizona law, is the following: “ to drive or be in actual physical control of the vehicle”. The last part of the definition makes it possible for law enforcement officers to require you to take a breathalyzer test even if you are just sitting in your car.
If you fail the test, you may be charged with DUI and, without a proper defense prepared by an experienced criminal defense attorney, even sentenced. This may appear incredible, but you can get a DUI sentence while sleeping in a car parked in your own driveway.

What Does Actual Physical Control Mean According to DUI Arizona Law?

The term “actual physical control” can be confusing for anyone, including a jury. For this purpose, the prosecution has to demonstrate that, under DUI Arizona law, you were in a position to operate the vehicle, even if it was stationary at the moment when you failed a breathalyzer test.
According to Arizona Department of Transportation, a blood alcohol content (BAC) in excess of 0.08 means that you are driving under influence. There are also separate provisions, with harsher sentences, for:

How Can the Prosecution Prove You Were in Control of Your Car?

The prosecution will likely focus on the following aspects in the attempt to prove your guilt under DUI Arizona law:

  • The position of the vehicle
  • Whether the key was in or near the ignition
  • Whether the engine was running
  • Your position in the car (on the front or back seat)
  • Whether the heating/air conditioning was running
  • The time of day or night.

Let us examine some of the key elements that may lead to a DUI sentence.

Location of the Car

Although we did include, for example’s sake, the situation of sleeping in your parked car on your driveway, this is actually a situation when the jury may find you not guilty.
The location of the car is an essential part of proving a case of DUI under Arizona law. It is one thing to sit in a car in the rest area the side of the road or in a parking lot, and a different thing to sit in a stopped car in the middle of the road. If you believe you are above the legal BAC level, always stop your car in an area where parked cars are likely to be found.

Location of the Driver

The rule of the thumb for avoiding a sentence for DUI under Arizona law is lying or sitting in your car as far from the ignition and steering wheel as possible. The ideal place is the back seat. No jury will convict you if it is technically impossible for you to start the car. If you do not want to get out of the car to switch seats, at least slide from the driver’s seat to the passenger’s.

Location of the Car Keys

Finally, the jury will have to appreciate whether you were likely to start the car with ease, even if it was stationary when the police requested you to take a breathalyzer test. Thus, the car keys should be as inaccessible to you as possible:

  • In your purse
  • In the glove compartment
  • In your trousers’ back pocket.

Charged with DUI? Contact an Experienced DUI Arizona Law Attorney!

If you were charged with DUI while sitting in a stationary car, a skilled attorney specializing in DUI Arizona law can build a solid defense and get the charges dropped or reduced. Do not face this difficult situation alone – call us now!