A DUI When You Aren’t Even Driving?
Quite often, we encounter clients who have DUI charges in Nevada but believe that there’s no way they can be convicted because they either were not driving, or believe no one witnessed them driving. Pursuant to NRS 484C.110, it is not only illegal to drive while intoxicated, but also to be in actual physical control of a vehicle in a public area even if you are not witnessed driving.
For example, if you’re out for a night of drinking, but believe you are too intoxicated to drive home, so instead you decide to sleep in your car until you are able to drive, you could possibly be charged with a DUI offense. If a police officer finds you asleep in your vehicle, and after speaking with you believes you to be intoxicated and performs the proper testing and determines you are in fact intoxicated, he can arrest you even though you never actually drove the vehicle. This is because you are in actual physical control of the vehicle while you are sitting in the driver’s seat. Actual physical control means that you were in control of the vehicle in such a way that you could have driven the vehicle at any time that you chose.
The same can be true if you are driving your vehicle, get a flat tire and pull over, go to a bar to have a few drinks while waiting for a friend to come help, and go back to the vehicle. If police officers then arrive and you are intoxicated, they can determine that you were in actual physical control of the vehicle, and that the vehicle only would have been on the side of the road with a flat tire had you been driving it.
There are several factors that a court can look at to determine whether you are in actual physical control of your vehicle. These factors include, but are not limited to, whether the vehicle’s engine is running, whether the occupant is awake or sleeping, where you are inside the vehicle, whether the vehicle’s headlights are on, where the keys are located, and whether the person must have driven the vehicle for it to be at the location where it is found by officers (i.e. if the vehicle is in a drive-thru window and the driver is asleep).
It is important to remember that in Nevada if you have been drinking, simply being inside of your vehicle but not driving can still have the same implications as if you decided to drive home intoxicated. You may think you are doing the responsible thing by sleeping off the alcohol inside your vehicle, however this may still lead to a troublesome DUI charge. While it is true the decision to sleep in your vehicle is responsible in the sense that you are not driving on the roads putting yourself and others in danger, it is still best to avoid the situation altogether and either take a taxi home, or get some other ride home.
If you find yourself charged with a DUI in Las Vegas, it is important to be represented by an attorney who knows the laws and is experienced in defending many different DUI scenarios. If you have been charged with a DUI in Nevada, call Gregory & Waldo at 702-830-7925 for a free consultation.