In most cases, drunk driving arrests are the result of being pulled over after an officer observes what he or she alleges to be erratic driving. As we mentioned recently in this blog, sobriety checkpoints can cast a wider net by stopping all drivers without any prior indication that the driver may be intoxicated. In some cases however three may be a question as to whether the alleged ‘drunk driver’ was driving the car at all.
A recent news article includes a number of examples in which a person was charged with a DUI even though most people would not consider them to be driving. One example was a New Jersey camper who had was sleeping in the back of his pickup truck at a campsite. When the police apparently discovered that he was intoxicated he was charged with driving while intoxicated.
It is not difficult to imagine a scenario where a person has drank a sufficient amount of alcohol to be legally impaired. They determine that they should not drive home and decide instead to call a friend or a taxi to come and pick them up. If it is cold or even if they just want to listen to the radio, they may put the keys in the ignition and even start the engine. Never taking the car out of park and not having any plans on driving.
If a police officer decides to stop and check on the idling car, it is possible that they will determine that you have actual physical control of the vehicle while intoxicated and attempt to bring charges against you.
Of course one should never drive while intoxicated, but it may also be prudent to be mindful of the risk of even being in the vicinity of your vehicle after you have been drinking.
Source: The Record Searchlight “Cop Talk: DUI can happen to person inside vehicle” Monty Hight, Aug. 20, 2011