You can get a DUI if your keys are in the ignition, even if the vehicle is not moving. Pennsylvania law allows the police to ticket and arrest anyone who is driving, was driving, or otherwise has the ability to leave in a vehicle when their blood alcohol content (BAC) is above legal levels.
You can actually face driving under the influence (DUI) charges if you are in your car with the keys, even when they are not in the ignition. This allowance is one reason why it is never a good idea to “sleep it off” in your vehicle.
Understanding Pennsylvania DUI Statutes
Under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (PA C.S.) Title 75 §3802, the Pennsylvania DUI statutes, an intoxicated driver may not:
- “Be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle”
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Alcohol Impairment Chart, this applies to drivers who have:
- .08 percent BAC for most adults over the age of 21
- .04 percent BAC for commercial drivers
- .02 percent BAC for minors under the age of 21
- .05 percent BAC if there is other evidence of impaired driving
- Evidence of controlled substances in their system
Being in physical control of a vehicle includes having the keys and the ability to drive. If you are intoxicated and sitting in your vehicle with the keys in the ignition—or otherwise in your possession—this certainly means you have physical control of the vehicle and could face charges.
If you must be in your vehicle while intoxicated, you may want to take a few steps to protect yourself, which could include:
- Giving your keys to someone sober and trustworthy
- Not starting the car or putting the keys in the ignition for any reason
- Keeping your keys away from you, such as in a bag in the cargo space of the vehicle
Having your keys in your possession and being in your vehicle while intoxicated could lead to a DUI arrest, but taking additional steps may weaken the case against you or convince police to give you a warning instead of facing charges.
The Strength of the Case Against You May Not Be as Strong
If you get a DUI with your keys in the ignition, but you were sitting still, the case against you may not be as strong as if you were driving or if you caused an accident before the police stopped you. However, you could still face the same consequences. You will likely want to enlist the help of an attorney who handles DUI cases in your area.
Depending on the circumstances of your arrest and your history, they may be able to build a stronger case for a diversion program or other option if you were not driving. In Montgomery County, the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program offers qualifying first-time offenders a way to avoid their arrest going on their record after a non-violent crime.
Those who do not have a criminal history and are arrested for this type of victimless crime, as well as more traditional DUIs, may be good candidates for the ARD program.
Take Action Quickly Because Deadlines Apply
DUI cases in Montgomery County often move quickly. Generally, applications for the ARD program must be submitted to the District Attorney’s Office as soon as possible. The deadline is within 30 days of your preliminary hearing for the offense.
Before this deadline arrives, your attorney will need to review the facts of your case, discuss your options, and determine if the ARD program is your best option. In some cases, there may be so little evidence that your attorney can argue that you should not face charges or that the state should drop the charges.
There may also be additional options to discuss if you do not qualify for the ARD program.
Speak to a Member of the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. DUI Defense Team Today
If you get a DUI with your keys in the ignition in Montgomery County, PA, call McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. as soon as possible after your arrest. We may be able to help you support your defense, outline several options for a more optimistic outcome in your case, and represent you throughout this process.
We handle many Pennsylvania DUI cases each year and understand how they may affect your life. We will work with you to lessen the impact and help you get things back to normal as soon as possible.
Call us today at (610) 680-7842.