Actual physical control of the vehicle is required to prove a defendant is guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol in the state of Georgia. This element is easily proven when a law enforcement officer pulls the driver over after observing the driver operating the vehicle. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, a driver is found asleep in the car.
When law enforcement finds a car pulled over to the side of the road or parked and a driver asleep at the wheel, that individual may still be guilty of a DUI. The issue is “actual physical control.” An individual found to be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle may be found guilty of a DUI even if he or she is not driving at the time of the arrest.
Factors the Court Considers
Courts in the state of Georgia have established a number of factors to be considered when determining whether the defendant was in actual physical control of the vehicle.
- Courts consider the ownership of the car. If the defendant is the owner of the vehicle, this is used to show actual control of the vehicle.
- Any incriminating statements made by the defendant are considered. Often, defendants admit to driving the vehicle. Remember, never make any statements to the police, even if you think you can avoid arrest.
- If the engine of the vehicle is running or the transmission is in drive, this is evidence of physical control by the defendant.
- Courts consider possession of the vehicle's keys by the defendant to be evidence of physical control.
Courts consider all of these factors, not just one, when determining whether the driver had actual physical control of the vehicle.
Actual Physical Control in the State of Georgia
Obviously, it is never a good idea to drink and drive. Every driver has alternatives available, including friends, a cab, a hotel room, or hiring a tow truck to tow your vehicle home while you ride in the truck. Pulling over to “sleep it off” does not necessarily avoid a possible DUI charge. A court may find you are in actual physical control of the vehicle and charge you with a DUI even if you are not driving at the time of your arrest.
If You Are Charged with DUI...
If you are charged with DUI in Georgia, don't face these charges alone. You need an attorney well versed in DUI law, including the ins and outs of “actual physical control” of a motor vehicle, under the law. Roswell DUI attorney Richard Lawson limits his practice exclusively to DUI cases. His passion for the law and his nearly twenty years of experience can make all the difference in a criminal case. Contact us today for a free consultation.