Here is one little known fact about Illinois DUI law that almost always shocks people when I bring it up: You don’t have to be driving to get a DUI.
Let me repeat that: In Illinois, you don’t have to be driving to be charged with a DUI.
The Illinois drunk driving statute has the following language: “A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle in this State while…” I will get to some of what comes after that word “while” in another post, but let me focus on “actual physical control” today.
Here’s an example: Lets say, for the sake of argument, that you went to a Christmas party and drank too much. Its late, its cold, and you have nowhere to go. You don’t want to drive drunk. So, you climb into the back seat of your car to lie down for awhile. You have no intention of driving until you feel fully safe to drive. No problem, right? Wrong. As long as there are keys accessible somewhere in the car, you have now committed the offense of DUI in the State of Illinois.
Actual physical control of a motor vehicle is based upon being alone in the car or being in the driver’s seat of a car, with access to keys. That’s it.
DUI is not an “intent” crime. Which means that your intent to merely sit in the car and not drive is irrelevant to the case. So, if you entered the car with no intention to drive, but instead to sleep, to listen to music, to smoke, to wait for someone else … none of it matters. The mere fact that you were alone in a car, with the ability to drive off, that is sufficient to prove that element of the offense. Pretty ridiculous, don’t you think? It is almost like they wrote the law creating an incentive for you to try to make it home rather than get caught “sleeping it off.”
What are your thoughts?