Darryl A. Goldberg
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Can I be charged with a DUI even though I wasn't driving?

It may seem inconceivable that a person can be charged with a DUI without even driving. After all, the principal element of the crime is that the accused was operating a motor vehicle. Nevertheless, there are countless people across the state of Illinois who are charged with drunk driving who are found asleep behind the wheel of a car that is not running, or even outside of their car in a parking lot.

These people, who seem like driving is the last thing on their minds, are victims of the “actual physical control” doctrine. This essentially means that a person who is intoxicated and is behind the wheel or is in close proximity to their vehicle can be charged with a crime because of the likelihood that a person will turn the car on and drive away. 

It would seem that if an officer had these suspicions, he or she would simply wait till the driver woke up and make an arrest. However, for a person who is passed out, there’s no sense in waiting around for he or she to drive. At the same time, law enforcement officers cannot sit and hover, waiting for a suspected drunk driver to drive.

So if you are charged with drunk driving and were in (or near) your vehicle and have no intention of driving, it is important that you review the situation with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and options, as well as the consequences of a conviction.

The preceding is presented for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. 

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Darryl A. Goldberg
33 North Dearborn Street
Suite 1830
Chicago, IL 60602

Phone: 773-793-3196
Fax: 312-782-7074
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