Yes. In Riverside, you can be charged with a DUI even if you are simply sitting in your parked car. However, it is important to note that certain circumstances must apply for the state to convict you.
How could I get a DUI in a parked car?
Even if you make the smart decision to simply sleep it off or wait it out, a police officer can arrest you for DUI. If the officer finds a reason to believe that you consumed alcohol and drove prior to parking your car, you can be arrested for DUI.
When police officers discover an intoxicated person in a parked car, they must evaluate the circumstances of the situation to determine whether the intoxicated person has committed a crime. However, in some cases, officers will arrest you for drunk driving rather than take a chance that you will drive away as soon as they leave.
While officers can arrest you for a DUI, even if you were not driving, these charges are often based on circumstantial evidence, which means convicting you may be difficult.
Is driving necessary to get a California DUI?
Yes. However, while a DUI in California must involve driving, a police officer does not need to witness you in the act of operating your vehicle to cite you for DUI. Instead, an officer will look for signs that you were recently operating the vehicle. Those may include:
- Keys in the ignition or the ignition currently running
- Warm tires or a warm hood (engine)
- The transmission in “Drive”
- Evidence of an accident in proximity to the vehicle
- Witnesses who saw you driving
- The presence of alcohol in your car
You are also more likely to get a DUI in a parked car if you are in a remote location. In other words, if your car is parked along a roadway, with no bar or residence in walking distance and no evidence of another driver, the officer may make the reasonable assumption that your vehicle arrived at its current location with you behind the wheel (driver).
Was there anything I could have done to avoid a DUI in a parked car?
Unfortunately, countless people receive parked car DUIs after making the wise decision to simply sleep it off. To avoid a parked car DUI, remember the following:
- Do not get behind the wheel. Even if you do not plan to drive, the act of sitting behind the wheel may be enough to justify a DUI charge. Nap in the back seat or passenger seat instead.
- Do not park on the side of the road. Stay in the parking lot of the bar or residence, if possible.
- Do not start your car, even if you are not behind the wheel. If an officer arrives and finds your engine warm, you may be charged with DUI in your parked car.
- Do not put the keys in the ignition. Even if you only want to listen to the radio or run the heater, putting your keys into the ignition can be enough to bring your case to court. If you can reasonably do so, lock your keys in the trunk or somewhere well out of reach. You can also put your keys behind your tires or on the ground outside your car to show you had no intention to drive.
- Do not have alcohol in your car, especially an open container.
- Do not admit you were driving or planned to drive. In some cases, a defendant ends up facing DUI charges after admitting guilt.
How can a Riverside DUI lawyer help me fight this charge?
While you can be charged with a DUI for sitting in a parked car, the state needs solid evidence and a strong case to actually convict you. A DUI lawyer can review the facts of your case to determine if the officer made any mistakes while conducting the field sobriety test or administering blood alcohol content testing. Your attorney can also subpoena all relevant records to identify potential defense strategies.
A Riverside DUI attorney can also work to prove that you had not driven before police officers showed up.
Ideally, your attorney can successfully have the charges against you dropped. If that is not possible your lawyer can negotiate for a lesser charge that carries less severe penalties.
If you are facing DUI charges in Riverside, a DUI lawyer from Greenberg & Greenberg, APLC can help you fight back. A drunk driving conviction carries severe penalties that can negatively affect your life, including stiff monetary fines and jail time.
For a free consultation, contact one of our Riverside DUI attorneys today to discuss your DUI charges: 951-274-0003.