What Factors Constitute Actual Physical Control DUI’s in Arizona? (Non-Driving DUI)

What Factors Constitute Actual Physical Control DUI’s in Arizona? (Non-Driving DUI)

In Arizona, you can be charged with a DUI even if you are not driving. The Arizona Supreme Court has said that every case must be looked at on a case-by-case basis to determine if someone was physically controlling a car. I wanted to give more insight into each element because the Supreme Court pointed out some novel factors. The following factors go to the trier of fact: a jury or a judge. 

1. Whether the vehicle was running or whether the ignition was on.

  • If the car's engine is on, it is more likely that the person has driven or was about to drive. If the motor is off, it is more likely that the person parked for a while. Meaning they were planning on driving later or had not driven for some time. 

2. Where was the driver found, and in what position?

  • If a person is found in the backseat of the car, it would be reasonable to assume they had not been driving recently and were not about to drive. Suppose a person is in the driver position, but their seat is reclined back. In that case, it may indicate that they reclined the seat to take a nap and were not planning to drive for some time, as they would have to adjust the seat back to the normal position before driving. The same logic can be applied to a person sitting on the car's passenger side. 

3. Where were the keys located?

  • Were the keys in the ignition or out of the ignition? Keys in the ignition indicate that the person may have recently driven or was about to drive. An interesting wrinkle in this factor is that many new vehicles don't require the keys to be in the ignition.  

4. The weather conditions and time of day.

  • Someone sleeping in their car in the middle of the night is different from someone sleeping in their car during the day. 

5. Whether the driver voluntarily pulled over.

  • If a person pulls over because they are starting to feel the alcohol in their system is a very different scenario than someone stopping their car on the shoulder and blacking out. 

6. Whether the driver was awake or asleep.

  • If a person is sleeping in their car, they are less likely to drive as they must wake up first. 

7. Whether the windows were up or down.

8. If the heater or air conditioner was on.

  • An interesting issue with this factor in Arizona is that people often leave their engine running in their car if they are asleep if it is hot out. Arizona summer temperatures are very extreme, so a motor is running, so the air conditioning will be cold. 

9. Where was the vehicle stopped?

  • The location where the officer stopped the vehicle is often one of the most important factors determining if a person is likely to be found guilty in an APC DUI case. If a person in their car is in the middle of an intersection, they will likely be found guilty. This is a very different situation if a person parked in a parking spot. 

10. Whether the headlights were on.

  • Suppose you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI in Arizona. In that case, you must find a defense attorney who understands Arizona's very complex DUI laws and has a lot of experience defending DUI cases. APC cases can be challenging, and you want a lawyer that has dealt with a high number of APC cases. Your freedom may depend on the lawyer that you hire.
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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Benikov Law Firm's legal team is licensed to practice law in Arizona. We invite you to contact us, but please be aware that contacting us does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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