Can I Get a DUI If My Car is Parked?

Our office has received calls from people who have been charged with DUI even though their car was parked. These people were people who may have had a few drinks and tried to drive only to realize that they were too intoxicated to do so. They tried to do the right thing by pulling over to sleep it off, only to have the police pull over and arrest them for DUI. In Virginia, because this state has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country, it is possible to get a DUI even if your car is in park if the keys are in the ignition.

Avoiding a DUI While in Park

The Virginia Supreme Court, in Enriquez v. Commonwealth, laid out some of the reasoning for this. The law in Virginia states that a DUI charge is given to the “operator” of a vehicle. An operator is defined as someone who is:

  • Driving
  • In actual physical control of the vehicle

Because keys are in the ignition, the person in the driver seat is in physical control of the vehicle. Even if your Northern Virginia DUI Attorney can show that the ignition was off, it may not be enough. The Court says, in the opinion above, that the positioning of the keys is not determinative. Therefore, if you worry that you may be over the limit, it is best to just call a cab instead of trying to sleep it off on the side of the road.