Getting A DUI Without Actually Driving

DUI may stand for “Driving Under the Influence,” but according to Arizona DUI laws, you don’t necessarily have to actually be driving a vehicle to be guilty of a DUI, as long as you are considered to have been “controlling” the car you are in, even if you had no intention of driving it.

Whether or not you are controlling a car is not always obvious. Legally, you can use your properly parked car as shelter after you have been drinking. Doing so does not put you in a position of controlling the vehicle as long as you are just sleeping in it. However, Arizona DUI law considers some actions you may take in your vehicle to be worthy of a DUI charge, even if you are not actually driving it.

In a former Arizona Supreme Court Case, State v. Zaragoza, Zaragoza was charged with an aggravated DUI charge when he was found sitting in his car in an apartment complex. Zaragoza was drunk but not driving. The car’s engine was off, he had both hands on the wheel, and the keys were in the ignition. He claimed he had no intention to drive but the keys were in the ignition so he could roll down the window and turn the radio on. He was able to appeal his conviction because the jury was not provided correct instructions on the law of what is considered to be actual, physical control of a vehicle.

Before this case, Arizona’s DUI laws did not clearly state what kind of actions deemed a person “in control” of a vehicle. After the case, the laws were changed to be more specific. The new law’s definition states that actual, physical control of a vehicle has nothing to do with the intent of the driver to move the vehicle, but instead the imminent danger to the driver or others at the time they were in the vehicle.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI in Arizona, contact a Tucson DUI attorney at Thrush Law Group immediately. We will look at every fact of your case to make sure all of your rights are protected. Visit us today at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *