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Could you face DWI charges even if you aren’t on the road?

Most people know the danger of driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. What happens, though, if the car is parked? Could you still face charges if you decided to sleep in your car overnight and drive home once you were sober?

For some cases in Missouri, the answers to these questions largely depend on whether the person was in “actual physical control” of their vehicle.

When might someone be in “actual physical control” of a vehicle?

Generally speaking, if you are not in a position to move a vehicle on your own, the court would probably not consider you in actual physical control. For example, a person passed out in the driver’s seat of an idling vehicle may not currently be driving, but Missouri courts have found people guilty of driving while intoxicated (DWI) because they could have controlled the car. A person sleeping it off in the back seat of a vehicle while the keys were on the dashboard, on the other hand, would not have been able to control that vehicle as easily.

The court might consider a wide variety of different factors when determining whether a driver had actual physical control of the vehicle. This can include:

  • The location of the vehicle itself, how it arrived there and when it arrived
  • Whether the vehicle was broken down, stuck, placed on blocks or otherwise disabled
  • Whether the engine was running, the transmission was in “drive” or the keys were in the ignition
  • The location of the person inside the vehicle
  • The location of the vehicle’s keys

If you face DWI charges, the details about your case matter, and it can be important to discuss those particulars with an attorney to defend your rights and your freedom.

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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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