There are many questions circulating out there about drunk driving laws. Nobody would argue that a person who is obviously under the influence of alcohol should not be operating a motor vehicle. This is a given. What is more precarious, however, is a determination about the extent to which drunk driving laws reach. Many rightfully have questioned if an individual can actually be arrested just for being behind the wheel of a car when under the influence, even it is not moving. This is the question that we will answer in this post.
The Basis for a DWI
There have actually been quite a few instances reported in the media in recent years where a person was arrested and charged with a DWI even though the car was not moving. We are not talking about individuals stopped at a red light either. In some cases, it involves individuals who are simply trying to sleep off their drunken state inside the car, while others might be doing the same but with the engine on to keep warm. Whatever the case might be, if the police catch sight of you and determine you to still be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, state statues generally permit them to charge you with a DWI.
Many people question why a car that is legally parked alongside the road or in a parking lot, away from passing traffic, could possibly pose a danger to others. What does it matter that somebody is actually inside the car. The issue is that DWI does not necessarily refer to a moving a vehicle. If the propensity is there for a person to drive the car, the police can interpret that as being a danger to society and an arrest can be made. If you are under the influence, are inside a car, and you have the key in. your possession, then are can possibly be subject to a DWI charge.
Keep in mind that just because you are charged with a DWI does not mean you are guilty. This is precisely why you need a professional and experienced criminal attorney on your side. There are many factors that go into a DWI charge and an attorney can weed through all of them. Police could have been alerted to your presence in a vehicle simply because someone saw you drinking and then getting in the car, even though you had no intention of actually driving it. The law is designed to protect society, but you have a right to present your side of the case as well.
While the law does permit a person who is legally over the blood alcohol level permit to operate a moving vehicle to be charged with a DWI, this does not necessarily mean that you had the intent to commit a crime. That is where a distinguishing component of the law comes into play. You may have simply been getting into the car to retrieve personal belongings, or you might be safely sitting in it to wait for a designated driver. Just because you have the keys in your possession does not necessarily indicate guilt.
It is possible to be stopped and arrest for DWI even if your vehicle is not moving. This is a simple reality of existing law. You do not have to feel as if your life is over, however, because there are extenuating circumstances that need to be taken into account before a prosecution is carried out. Keep the faith, hire an attorney, and present your case in a reasonable and well thought out manner. Remember that you are innocent until proven guilty, so give an attorney the opportunity to represent in an open court if it comes to that.