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Can you get a DUI in a parked car in Colorado?

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2023 | DUI/DWI

You know that driving under the influence (DUI) is dangerous and wrong – so sleeping off a few drinks in your car seems like a much better solution. You certainly aren’t putting anybody at risk doing that, right?

Unfortunately, you can still end up with a DUI charge. How is this even possible?

You can be “driving” even if your car isn’t moving

Colorado’s law defines a driver as anybody “who drives or is in actual physical control of a vehicle,” so that’s the key factor in determining whether you can be charged with a DUI while you’re parked. In other words, every situation is fact-specific.

If you’re found sleeping in the front seat of the car with your key in the ignition, you are pretty clearly still in control of the vehicle. It wouldn’t take much for you to reach out, turn the key and start moving. Even having the keys in your pocket or nearby could be considered “in control.”

On the other hand, if you left your keys with the bartender or put them in your trunk before you settled in to take a nap, you may have a much stronger defense. It would be hard to argue that you were in control of the vehicle without the ability to turn on its engine.

It’s incredibly frustrating to do the right thing and still end up facing a criminal charge like this, but it does happen. Seeking experienced legal guidance can help you better understand what’s happening and what defense options you may have available to you.