It is no secret that a DUI charge can have serious consequences in Arizona. Yet something that is not always as obvious is exactly what merits the charge of driving under the influence. Aside from the fact that intoxication part of DUI charges do not require a relation to alcohol intoxication, the driving element of a DUI incident does not always pertain to someone actually driving a car.
The exact definition can vary from state to state, but often it is enough for a person to be deemed to be in control of a car or other vehicle, not necessarily driving it. This could include simply sitting in a car, for example to find shelter from the rain or while waiting for someone. Whether the matter is considered a DUI offense is then usually based on a number of factors.
As this article on drunk driving explains, these factors can include which seat in the vehicle the suspect was occupying, whether they had keys in the ignition and even whether the vehicle was parked on the roadway or off it.
On top of all this, DUI charges can come in varying levels of severity. In some cases they can even be counted as felonies, particularly if they resulted in serious injury to another person. Felony charges often carry harsher penalties and can result in a prison sentence if you are convicted.
Of course, every case is unique, so it is impossible to know for sure how any individual case will turn out. As such, a good defense is vital. An attorney may be able to help you work through your options and identify the most sensible course of action to take given your circumstances.