It may surprise you to learn that it's quite possible to be charged with driving under the influence even if you weren't actually driving. As long as you were in physical control of the vehicle, a Virginia law enforcement officer has grounds for an arrest.
Determining Physical Control of the Vehicle
According to Virginia DUI law, you don't need to be driving as long as you are physically in control of the vehicle. This means you could be arrested for drunk driving if you were:
- Sitting in the driver's seat
- Sitting in the car with the engine running
- Sitting with the keys within reach
If you were sleeping in the back seat with the vehicle not running, you wouldn't be considered in physical control of the vehicle. Physical control requires the reasonable belief that you'd be able to operate the vehicle given your current position.
Cases involving physical control carry the same penalty as a DUI arrest when you were actually driving, but the good news is that the court is skeptical regarding this type of charge. If you can show evidence that you were waiting for a designated driver or simply trying to sober up before heading home, you may have a solid defense.
Cases Involving Mistaken Identity
Sometimes, a DUI charge may be based on mistaken identification of the driver. For example, if several friends were traveling together, it might it be impossible for law enforcement to determine who was actually driving the vehicle if there are no outside witnesses. Arguing this type of case can be difficult, which is why you'll need to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible
How T. Kevin Wilson Can Help
A DUI charge is a serious matter, even if it's your first offense. If you've been charged with drunk driving and you weren't driving at the time of your arrest, Virginia DUI attorney T. Kevin Wilson can help you build an aggressive defense. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.