A driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge has serious penalties and consequences that negatively affect a person’s life. The way the law determines whether an individual is in actual physical control of a vehicle plays a huge part in whether or not a person can be charged with a DWI. One may wonder if they could get a DWI if the keys were not in the ignition. Essentially, a person can be charged with a DWI regardless of whether the keys were in the ignition. If you believe you have been wrongfully charged with a DWI, contact a skilled Monmouth County DWI Attorney who can help defend your rights and prove you were not in actual physical control of your vehicle while intoxicated.
Could I be charged with a DWI if the keys are not in the ignition?
In New Jersey, a person can be charged with DWI regardless of whether the keys are in the ignition. Additionally, a person can get charged with a DWI even if they weren’t driving. Under New Jersey law, if an individual is driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more and is in actual physical control of a vehicle they can be convicted of a DWI. Individuals may wonder what it means to be in actual physical control of a car. Essentially, being in actual physical control of a car means that an individual had the apparent ability to operate a car. The law never states that an individual has to be driving a motor vehicle to be convicted of a DWI. Instead, it stipulates that if an individual was “operating” a vehicle while intoxicated they can be charged with a DWI. To determine whether an individual was in physical control of a car while they were intoxicated by illegal substances such as drugs or alcohol, the following is analyzed:
- Where was the accused located in the vehicle? (the driver’s seat, the passenger seat, or the backseat of the vehicle)
- Where were the keys? (were the keys in the accused person’s possession)
- Did the accused have the engine running? (regardless of whether it was on for the AC or heating)
- Was the accused in the vehicle because their vehicle was disabled (broken down)?
- Where was the vehicle parked?
The court will determine the above factors to determine if a person was in actual physical control of their vehicle while intoxicated. The court’s main concern is the intent of the accused. If the accused had their keys and were seated behind the wheel, they will likely be charged with a DWI. This is because they had the apparent ability to operate a vehicle.
In the unfortunate event that you have been charged with a DWI regardless of whether the keys were in the ignition, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our trusted and determined attorneys. Our firm is committed to defending our client’s interests to achieve favorable results. Allow our dedicated team to represent your interests in court.