Under Georgia law, to be guilty of driving under the influence, a person must be in actual physical control of a vehicle after consuming alcohol, inhalants, or controlled substances. What does it mean to be in "actual physical control"? Is this different from driving? Isn't the point of a DUI to prohibit drunk driving, not drunk 'physical control'?
Actually, there is a point to the way that the law is worded. It has been created this way to allow the police to charge impaired drivers in situations beyond the "traditional" DUI vehicle stop or checkpoint. Imagine a car stalled in the middle of an intersection, containing only one person in the driver's seat. The driver, visibly intoxicated is fumbling with the gearshift when the cops arrive. If police come upon this person, they will still be able to charge him or her with driving under the influence, because it can be demonstrated that this driver was in physical control of the car at the time law enforcement arrives.
It sounds like this makes sense, right? It depends on the circumstances. When legislatures create criminal statutes, they must walk a fine line between creating a law that is too broad (and punishes behavior that it did not intend to punish) and one that is too narrow (and does not prohibit all of the crimes it intended to prohibit). Many times after a law has been put on the books, we find that in trying to strike a balance, the exact language of the law will prohibit certain behaviors that the legislators did not intend to prohibit.
The state of Georgia's laws prohibiting intoxicated drivers from being in control of vehicles are fairly broad, and sometimes drivers can find themselves in an unfortunate position. Imagine the same intoxicated person, rather than attempt to drive home and stall out, without any other way to get home, decides to sleep it off in the parking lot of the bar. While this is obviously a much more responsible choice that will keep both the driver and the general public safe, there is a risk to this choice. You can still face DUI charges while sleeping in your car.
This may sound a little odd. DUI while sleeping? Again, the law tries to cover all possible scenarios, such as an impaired driver who crashes a car and passes out. However, this can also put a person in danger who is trying to make a safe and responsible choice. If you have found yourself in this situation, please call me. We can discuss exactly what happened when you were arrested and talk about the best legal strategies to fit your particular situation.