I wasn't driving! Why was I arrested for DUI?

You knew that you had too much to drink, and you didn't want to drive. Instead, you decided to get into your car and wait until you were more sober. A police officer came along "just to check on you," and before you realized what was going on, you were under arrest for driving under the influence.

If this situation sounds familiar to you, then you could face charges for DUI even though you weren't driving. You could end up in this situation under any number of circumstances.

Non-driving DUI scenarios

You may have ended up under arrest for DUI even though you weren't driving due to one or more of the following circumstances:

  • The designated driver left the keys in the car after stopping to relieve him or herself.
  • You were listening to tunes in your car...in the driveway.
  • You decided to sleep it off in your car.
  • You made it home, but police received a tip you were drunk driving.
  • You thought it would be a good idea to push your car.
  • The police officer accuses you of switching places with a sober passenger.
  • The police officer believes you were driving in an accident.

You may have been drinking, but you thought that since the vehicle wasn't moving, police couldn't arrest you for DUI. Unfortunately, that isn't necessarily the case.

What elements make up a DUI?

The reason that you ended up in the back of a police car even though you weren't technically driving has to do with the elements required to prove a DUI. The following indicate that a DUI legally took place:

  • You drank alcohol before getting into the car.
  • Your blood alcohol concentration is .08 or higher, which is above Wisconsin's legal limit.
  • You had "actual physical control" of the vehicle.

It is this last element that makes an allegation of a non-driving DUI possible. Many scenarios can put you in actual physical control of the vehicle. One that many people end up in trouble for is sleeping behind the wheel with the keys in the ignition, but you don't have to be in the driver's seat.

The engine doesn't even have to be on, but if it is still warm, that could cause police to suspect that you were driving at one time. If you pulled over onto the side of the road, you may think you are being responsible. However, police consider that you probably had to drive to get to the place where you stopped.

Does that mean there's no way to avoid a conviction?

Absolutely not! You always have the right to challenge any charges filed against you, including a non-driving DUI. The particular circumstances surrounding your arrest require a thorough review in order to determine whether the arrest was legal and that your rights weren't violated. You may want to take action as quickly as possible to preserve your rights and review your options regarding the best outcome possible to the charges.