The plain meaning of “driving under the influence” seems at first blush to indicate you must be actually driving to be convicted of a DUI offence. But, in fact, this is not the law in Minnesota. Believe it or not, it is possible to be cited for these offenses if you are deemed to have “physical control” over your vehicle–even if you have not driven it or do not intend to. Let's take a more in-depth look at the Minnesota interpretation of physical control and the actions you can take to act responsibly and avoid a citation.
The idea of physical control has been interpreted by the Minnesota Supreme Court to include a wide range of activities that go beyond the actual operation of a motor vehicle. This extremely broad legal interpretation of physical control is rooted in the theory that it will dissuade intoxicated individuals from even interacting with their vehicle in any way except as passengers with a sober driver.
It is important to know that you could be cited for physical control DWI/DUI without even being inside your vehicle. In fact, in one case a woman was cited for this offense when her vehicle was pulled to the side of the road and she was standing beside her vehicle's flat tire. The engine was running and no one else was present so she was deemed to be in physical control of her vehicle.
Other individuals have been cited for physical control DWI/DUI because they entered their vehicle and were found sleeping in the front or even back seats. Even an unconscious individual is considered to have physical control of his or her vehicle.
The good news is it is easy to avoid a physical control DWI/DUI citation. If you find you are no longer fit to drive, give your keys to a friend or family member and ask them to drive you home. If that is not an option, then stay away from your vehicle and call for a ride home.
If you are facing DWI charges, you need experienced legal counsel. Contact Attorney Eric J. Olson for vigorous defense and unrivaled results.