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 the crime.
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.