The very name of driving under the influence (DUI) seems like this crime would require an individual to have been driving a motor vehicle at the time to make a DUI arrest. However, a look at the actual DUI statute in Arizona shows that someone could get arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol even if the car was parked, stopped or pulled over in a parking lot.
The state’s drunk driving law, Arizona Revised Statute Section 28-1381, says that it is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating liquor, any drug or a vapor releasing substance containing any combination thereof if the person is impaired to the slightest degree.
Being in actual physical control of a vehicle does not necessarily mean driving the car. It can mean sitting or sleeping in a parked car. The law holds that keeping the car in a parked position and preventing it from moving is as much as being in control of a motor vehicle as driving one that’s in motion. This means even if you were never actually operating a vehicle while intoxicated, you could still get a DUI.
However, if you cannot put the vehicle in motion, you may not be viewed as being in actual physical control. If the vehicle is up on blocks, for example, it could be proven that you were incapable of controlling the car. The same is true if you did not have the keys anywhere available to you. Whether or not being in a parking lot means that you were in actual physical control of a vehicle depends on the situation.
The law also states that a person could receive a DUI if he or she registers a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level at or above 0.08 percent within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle, if the BAC stems from alcohol consumed before or while controlling the vehicle.
If you get arrested by law enforcement for an alleged DUI while in a parking lot in Arizona, it is important to protect your rights from the very beginning. You could be facing serious penalties if found guilty of driving under the influence (even if you weren’t driving). This includes a mandatory jail or prison sentence, fines, restitution, and the loss of your driving privileges.
Take the following steps if you find yourself in this situation:
During a DUI case, it is the prosecutor’s job to show that you were in actual physical control of the car. If it was parked in a parking lot, your lawyer may be able to establish that you were not in actual physical control, had no intent to drive or were using the car as a stationary shelter. All of these defenses could potentially result in case dismissal. Your lawyer may also be able to prove that there was no probable cause for the traffic “stop” in the parking lot.
If you’ve recently been arrested for a DUI in a parking lot in Arizona, contact Rosenstein Law Group for a free and confidential case evaluation with a criminal defense lawyer.