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Actual Physical Control Allows DUI Charge Without Driving

Posted on in Criminal Law

Actual Physical Controls Allows DUI Charge Without DrivingDespite its name, driving is not a requirement for you to be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Illinois’ DUI law states that a person under the influence of an intoxicating substance cannot drive or be in “actual physical control” of a vehicle. This means that you could be charged with DUI for merely being inside your vehicle while intoxicated. It may not matter to a court that you did not intend to drive if you had the ability to drive the vehicle at a moment’s notice.

Circumstantial Evidence

Illinois law does not define what “actual physical control” is with a vehicle. Courts will judge whether a DUI defendant had actual physical control based on the details of each case. Relevant factors include whether:

  • The vehicle was running;
  • The keys were in the ignition;
  • The defendant possessed the keys;
  • The defendant was in the driver’s seat;
  • Anyone else was inside the vehicle;
  • The defendant owned the vehicle; or
  • There was any evidence that the vehicle had recently been driven.

The evidence against you grows stronger if you were sitting behind the steering wheel or the keys were in the ignition. You are less likely to have had actual physical control if the vehicle did not belong to you or someone who was not intoxicated was inside the vehicle with you.

Testing a Scenario

You are leaving a bar after a night of drinking and make it back to your car. You realize that you had too much to drink to safely drive home and decide to sleep it off in the back seat of your car. A passing police officer sees you resting in your car and does a well-being check. Upon talking to you, the officer suspects that you are intoxicated and arrests you for DUI. Prosecutors may have enough evidence to convince the court that you were in actual physical control because you were inside your vehicle and were capable of driving it. The evidence would be stronger if in the same scenario you put the key in the ignition in order to run your car’s heater.

Contact a Crystal Lake Criminal Defense Attorney

The prosecution has a greater burden for a DUI case involving actual physical control because it must prove that you were under the influence and capable of driving the vehicle. The driving is already established when you are charged with DUI after a traffic stop. A McHenry County criminal defense attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can use the details of your case to debunk the claim that you had actual physical control of the vehicle. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.



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