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 Posted on April 30, 2020 in DUI

Arizona DUI AttorneyMany drivers in Arizona mistakenly believe that you must physically be driving a car to be charged with a DUI. However, simply sitting in the driver’s seat and smelling like alcohol may be enough to get arrested for DUI.

Arizona law prohibits driving or being in actual physical control of a car while impaired. While actual physical control is not greatly defined, Arizona courts will often use several factors to determine whether a person had the intent to drive while intoxicated. These factors often include:

  • Whether the vehicle was running or whether the ignition was on;
  • Where the driver was found, and in what position;
  • Where the keys were located;
  • The weather conditions and time of day;
  • Whether the driver voluntarily pulled over;
  • Whether the driver was awake or asleep;
  • Whether the windows were up or down;
  • If the heater or air conditioner was on;
  • Where the vehicle was stopped;
  • Whether the headlights were on

The Court applies these factors to determine if the driver had the immediate ability to drive away. If the Court believes that the driver had the ability to immediately drive off, then the Court often finds that the driver had actual physical control.

For example, in State v. Zavala, a driver was found unconscious, with his truck pulled off to the side of the highway. The engine was not running and the keys were in the off position. He was cited for a DUI. The Court determined that the driver ceased driving the vehicle, and had relinquished control of it. As a result, the driver was not convicted for a DUI.

However, in State v. Webb, a Phoenix driver was found in his truck passed out in the middle of a busy street. He was in the driver’s seat, hands on the wheel, lights were on and engine running. In this case, the Court found actual physical control, since the driver only had to wake up and drive off.

These Arizona cases serve as a warning to drivers: the odds of you getting a DUI depend heavily on the facts of each case. An officer who finds you asleep may arrest you for DUI, even if you have done everything right.

DUI punishments in Arizona are severe and you should not fall asleep at the wheel when choosing a lawyer.  If you were charged with a DUI, contact the Behan Law Group. Michelle Behan has fought and won cases where Arizona citizens were falsely accused of DUI.  Contact the Behan Law Group today.  The lawyers you deserve at the price you can afford.

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