car keys in ignition

When you’ve had too much to drink, you make the right decision and call a friend to pick you up. However, if it’s cold or rainy outside, you may want to wait in your car for your ride to arrive. As you’re waiting, a police officer questions you, and the next thing you know, you’re facing a DUI charge even though you never turned your car on. If you’re in this unusual circumstance, understanding how to proceed is essential to keeping your criminal record clean. Keep reading to learn more about this charge and discover how a Cobb County DUI lawyer can help you navigate the legal process.

What Constitutes a DUI Charge in Georgia?

To receive a DUI charge in Georgia, it must be proven that the driver was under the influence and in physical control of the vehicle. However, “physical control” of a car is not defined in specific terms, leaving it up to interpretation across different police departments and from courtroom to courtroom. This means if you are sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys in your hand but not in the ignition, you can still be considered in physical control of the vehicle.

What Evidence Proves You Were or Were Not in Control?

There is circumstantial evidence police can use to argue that you were in control of the vehicle. For example, if your hood or tires are warm, it can indicate that the car was recently driven, even if your keys are out of the ignition. Under this circumstance, the police officer would have reasonable suspicion to prove you were in control of the vehicle at some point, charging you with a DWI.

However, if your keys are not in the ignition and you are not in the driver’s seat, it will be easier to prove you are not in control of the vehicle. You could also apply the parking brake, which helps prove you had no intention of driving the car. If you are particularly worried about receiving charges, you can put the keys in the trunk. However, avoiding vehicles at all costs is the only guaranteed way to avoid facing a DUI.

What Should You Do if You Are Facing Charges?

If you’re facing charges for sitting in your car while intoxicated, even if your keys were not in the ignition, you’ll need to know how to proceed. Upon your arrest, avoid resisting arrest or attempting to flee. Also, inform the officer you wish to remain silent to avoid saying anything to accidentally incriminate yourself.

When you’re in trouble, ensuring you have a competent attorney on your side is vital. Even if it’s your first offense, you can face severe penalties. The Miller Law Practice has the experience necessary to help you fight the charges to receive the best possible outcome for the circumstances surrounding your case. Contact us today to get started.