After a night on the town, you may believe sleeping off your intoxication in your vehicle is a good way to avoid a driving while impaired charge. While it is always better not to drive with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.08%, your belief may not be entirely accurate.

In North Carolina, driving is not an element of a DWI offense. Instead, if you simply have actual physical control of a motor vehicle, you may find yourself defending potentially serious charges for impaired driving.

Factors that may demonstrate physical control

Determining whether you have actual physical control of a motor vehicle is likely to require a careful analysis of the facts. Nonetheless, among others, the following factors may demonstrate actual physical control:

  • Whether you have the keys to the car
  • Whether the car’s ignition is running
  • Whether you are in the driver’s seat
  • Whether your vehicle has recently moved
  • Whether you own the vehicle

A strategy for avoiding legal liability

Before you consume alcohol, you should plan to arrive home safely. For example, designating a sober driver is a good strategy for avoiding legal liability. If you are already facing criminal prosecution, though, you may need to attack the physical control element of your DWI charge.

To defend yourself effectively, you may distinguish the facts of your arrest from those of other individuals who were not driving at the time of their arrests. Put simply, if you were drunk and sleeping in a motor vehicle, the less control you had over the vehicle the better.