Charged with DUI in Pierce Co./Tacoma but Weren’t Even Driving? It’s Called Physical Control

You were driving home. All of a sudden you realized, “Oh my goodness, I shouldn’t be driving, I’ve had too much.” So, you pulled over and chose to sleep it off. That way you wouldn’t be a danger to yourself or others. You were trying to do the right thing. Yet now you find yourself facing charges of physical control. You don’t even quite know what that means and you’re angry to find you’re arrested and charged while trying to do the right thing. You will want a DUI defense attorney on your side.

Now you’re thinking, “I wasn’t even driving! Why do I need a DUI defense attorney?” Though it is a different charge, the circumstances are similar and the penalties are exactly the same. Physical control is charged when you are in control of a vehicle and are impaired by alcohol or drugs. You could be facing a year in jail, a $5000 fine, a license suspension, and required treatment or installation of an ignition interlock device. This can get just as serious as a strictly DUI charge; that’s why you need a DUI defense attorney.

Your first reaction may be, “But that’s a stupid law! Why then should I want to even try to do the right thing?” You wouldn’t be the first person charged with or even just learning about this law to have a similar reaction. However it doesn’t help. No matter what your personal feelings about this law or those of your friends and family – the law still stands. Rather than fume about what you see as an unfairness you will want to deal with the reality that it is the law you were charged with breaking and work on a defense strategy.

The good news is that there are options for defense. One of those options is actually built into the law. You can’t be charged with this crime if you are “safely off the roadway”. So now is the time to ask yourself some questions? Where off the road were you? Were you in a parking lot? Were your keys in the ignition? Was the car turned off? If any of your answers were no, don’t despair. Remember that the prosecution has to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; the defense simply has to show how they didn’t. One option is to show that you were “safely off the roadway”; if that doesn’t work, other angles will be looked for. We will get you your best result possible.

It may seem obvious that the safely off the roadway clause was added because legislators did in fact want to encourage people to do just what you did. That is, get off the road when you realize that you’re too impaired to drive. However, it should be pointed that the police are aware of this section of the law as well. So, since you got charged it appears that one police officer believes that in your case you were not what they considered safely off the roadway. In fact, while examining this law online one can find an instance of a policeman stating that outside of someone’s own personal driveway he was under the belief that there was no such thing as safely off the roadway.

Keep in mind, though, that no matter what the opinions of the police or even yourself are; the decision ultimately rests in the hands of the jury. So the prosecution will try to show how you were in actual physical control and were not safely off the roadway while the defense will demonstrate that you were safely off the roadway. So you will want to consider the exact area you were parked, whether your car was running and how accessible your keys were. All these facts can work to your advantage. Obviously the further your car was off the road, if your car was turned off and the more difficult it would have been to get your keys will all work to your benefit.

There is another possibility. There had to be a legitimate reason for the police to approach your car in the first place. Since you weren’t driving there was obviously no traffic infraction. So ask yourself, what was the original reason you were approached? If there was no legitimate reason, this may also be used as a defense. As always you will want to discuss all details and possibilities with your Seattle Tacoma DUI defense attorney.

Please call Smith & White, PLLC – the first consult is free.

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