Fort Collins

Colorado Springs

Understanding DUI Laws: When Can You Get a DUI in a Parked Car

A Florida Man has once again made headlines, this time for falling into a premature food coma (allegedly induced by alcohol) in the drive-through lane of a Gainesville Taco Bell. The 25-year-old was discovered by Taco Bell workers when he failed to respond to their requests for his order. Upon being awakened, he moved his vehicle into an empty parking spot, presumably to await his food. Shortly after, a vigilant police officer found him asleep again and charged him with a DUI even though he wasn’t actively driving at the time.

One might wonder if indulging in some sustenance was precisely what he needed to sober up. However, it’s important to note that ordering food might have been a wise choice – if he had placed an order.

Can You Get a DUI in a Parked Car?

The straightforward answer is yes; you can indeed receive a DUI charge in Colorado even if you are not driving when arrested. However, what transpires in such situations determines whether you can be arrested.

A pertinent case that sheds light on these nuances is the 1998 Colorado Supreme Court case of People v. Swain. In this case, the court delved into the language of the law concerning the requirement for a drunk driver to have “actual physical control” of a vehicle. But what does this term mean?

Whether a driver has “actual physical control” is determined by examining the situation’s circumstances. Various factors are taken into account, although this list is incomplete. Factors include:

  1. The vehicle’s location.
  2. The driver’s location within the vehicle.
  3. The status of the keys (whether they are in the ignition).
  4. Whether the car is running.
  5. Any other factors that suggest the driver had control of the vehicle.

Using Florida Man’s DUI case as an example, his DUI defense attorney could utilize the car’s location as a potential defense. Since he was found in a parking lot, it could be argued that he was not in control of the vehicle. However, reports indicated that he fell asleep at the wheel, potentially harming his defense, as the driver’s seat is where one typically sits while driving. Regarding the keys’ status, the report should have provided this information. For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume the keys were in the ignition, as his initial about of unconsciousness occurred in the drive-through lane. In such a scenario, it could weaken his defense.

Navigating DUI charges involves understanding the complexities of the law, and having a knowledgeable DUI defense engaging the services of an attorney can significantly influence the result of your case.

At Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, we specialize in handling alcohol and drug-related driving offenses in Colorado. Our experienced legal team is dedicated to helping clients navigate the legal process effectively and achieve the best possible outcomes for their cases.

Do you have further questions or concerns? Call us or contact the attorneys at Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, and we will be happy to help.

Skip to content