After a night out, you head back to your car and have a realization: You probably should not drive. You’ve had a few drinks and do not want to put yourself or anyone else at risk. So you clamber into your vehicle, shut the door and close your eyes.

It seems like the responsible decision, but you could very well end up charged with driving under the influence (DUI).

DUIs and ‘actual physical control’

Here in Nevada, you do not necessarily need to be actively driving in order to face a DUI charge. The law specifically prohibits an individual from being in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while under the influence. What constitutes actual physical control?

As one sergeant with the Highway Patrol explained, it is when an individual has direct influence over the vehicle and the ability to maneuver it. While there is some gray area in the law, simply being asleep in a car does not mean someone no longer has actual physical control.

When someone does not have actual physical control

The law does outline one specific situation in which a person asleep in their car can be deemed not in actual physical control of a vehicle. There are five key markers:

  • If the person is asleep inside the vehicle
  • If they are not in the driver’s seat
  • If the vehicle’s engine is not running
  • If the vehicle is lawfully parked
  • If, considering the facts presented, it is evident the person could not have driven the vehicle to that location while under the influence

Once again, certain situations may be opaque. For example, what if the vehicle’s engine is warm? Or the keys are in the ignition, but the engine is off? These types of questions do not always have a simple answer.

Anyone facing a DUI charge should attempt to document or remember all of these details surrounding the arrest. When presented to an attorney, this information has the potential to make a big difference.