With other crimes, like murder, assault and fraud, a person can be arrested,
charged and even convicted for an
attempt to commit the offense – even if the intended act does not come to
fruition. A person may face felony charges; for example, for devising
a scheme to defraud others and taking some step toward the completion
of that scheme, even if no one is actually affected by the attempted fraud.
Does a similar principle apply to
driving under the influence (DUI) charges?
Let's take a look at an example of what we are considering here: Let’s
say Bob is out with some friends at a local bar. He has several drinks
within a short amount of time and decides that he will drive home. He
gets into his car but passes out before he can even get the key into the
ignition. Unfortunately for Bob, an officer who was patrolling the area
witnessed him stumble out of the bar and into his vehicle. Bob is subsequently
arrested, but should he face DUI charges? Is this even legal or constitutional?
Actual Physical Control of the Vehicle
In California, like many states, a driver may be charged with driving under
the influence (DUI) if he or she is in “actual physical control
of the vehicle” while under the influence. This does not mean the
person has to be
actually driving. So, if Bob climbed into the driver’s side of his vehicle with his
keys in hand, and passed out before driving, or if he decided to “sleep
it off,” he could be slapped with DUI charges, even if he meant
to sleep until he sobered up.
Challenging the Validity of Attempted DUI Charges
Although people can get DUIs for sitting or sleeping in their vehicles
while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, each case should still
be subject to scrutiny. If a person is intoxicated or under the influence
of drugs, his or her "specific intent" to commit the crime of
DUI may be brought into question. DUI is considered a crime of "general
intent" because a driver need not have intended to drive drunk to
be convicted. He or she need only have had the intent to drive.
With a crime of specific intent, a person would have the intention of committing
This confusing issue is likely to continue to affect attempted DUI cases
for some time, and at the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry we can use
this to our clients' advantage.
To find out more about our firm and how we can help in the face of your charges,
please call for a free, confidential consultation.