You may know DUI charges are harsh in Pennsylvania. However, you may not know that you can still get DUI if your car is parked. If the police officers consider that you are in physical control of the car, then they may decide to charge you with a DUI.
The same principle applies when you are in your car and only intending to sleep off the effects of alcohol. It is not uncommon for people to get a DUI charge for attempting to sleep it off. Although this may seem to be the sensible thing to do, you could still face legal consequences if a judge later convicts you.
Reasons Why You May Face DUI Charges in a Parked Car
There are several reasons why law officials may have the impression you were drinking at the wheel and that you may be guilty of a DUI offense. The first reason is the open container law. Per the Pennsylvania statute regarding restriction on alcoholic beverages, you and your passengers may not have any open alcoholic containers in your vehicle while it is on any road in the state.
There is an exception to the open container law that excludes passengers with open alcoholic containers if they are in the passenger section of any vehicle used to transport people, such as buses, taxis, and limousines.
If a judge convicts you under Title 34, §945, you could receive what is called a summary charge. Although this is the least serious offence, there are still fines from $25 to $1,500 depending on the severity of the breach. A summary offense conviction can also carry a three-month jail sentence for the worse offenses.
When the police want to determine whether you were drinking at the wheel, they may also rely on the following observations:
- Your car engine and tires were still warm.
- You still had the keys in the ignition.
- Others saw you driving.
- You parked your car in a location that required the car to be driven.
Although the above signs may indicate that you were drinking and driving, there still needs to be strong evidence against you for a conviction of a DUI if your car is parked. If you are unsure of your legal standing and the level of evidence that the state has against you, then you should seek the advice of a DUI lawyer who can represent you.
If the police arrest you and charge you with a DUI, then a prosecutor must prove that any evidence against you is beyond a reasonable doubt. This proof means showing that you operated the vehicle while you were under the influence, and if they cannot do this, they cannot convict you.
It is possible that the case may not come to court, especially if there is not enough evidence of a DUI if your car is parked. If it does, there are several ways that a DUI lawyer can help you build a strong defense. This defense includes determining whether there were any mistakes made by officers when carrying out sobriety and blood alcohol content (BAC) tests. They can also request your records. Having legal representation that understands how the courts operate in Pennsylvania is very important.
Seeking Help for a DUI Charge
A DUI charge on your record can have a significant impact on your finances, work prospects, and social status. While the thought of this may seem overwhelming, there is support and advice available, and it is possible to have an advocate help you through this.
A DUI lawyer working on your behalf can:
- Protect your legal rights
- Fairly represent you
- Gather any supporting evidence on your behalf
- Advise you of your options
Depending on your case, we may also:
- Contest the charges
- Keep you out of jail
- Potentially help you keep your record clean or get your record expunged.
Call a DUI Lawyer Today
If you have a DUI charge, you need someone who can work alongside you to identify and mitigate your risks. When you approach the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., our DUI lawyer, and his team will investigate your case thoroughly. Once we have all the facts, then we can negotiate with a prosecutor to potentially reduce or dismiss the charges against you. If we cannot achieve this, we will help you build a strong defense to ensure your rights are protected.
The McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. offers free case reviews and consultations, and we are available to answer your questions and detail your options. Once you become a client, we can be reached through email, text, phone, even social media. For further information, call the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. at (610) 680-7842 today.