What is a Parked Car DUI?
A parked car DUI offense can be charged when a defendant is found legally intoxicated while behind the wheel of a motionless or parked vehicle. The situations that can lead to this type of charge presents complexities in certain jurisdictions where the difference between a DUI charge hinges on whether the key was in the ignition. Although state laws vary as to whether it is a crime to be intoxicated while behind the wheel of a parked vehicle, the law in many states and in Mississippi is clear. Mississippi law has enforced that such an act is a chargeable DUI offense.
Mississippi's Stance on Parked Car DUIs
According to the Mississippi DUI statute, it is illegal to operate a vehicle “while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or other substances.” The definition of “operate” was a point of contention in the 1984 case of Jones v. State. In that case, police found the defendant slumped over in the driver's seat of a parked car. The keys were in the ignition and the engine was running. Even though the car was not in motion and it did not appear that the defendant intended to move the car, the police charged the defendant with a DUI. The court concluded that the DUI statute was properly interpreted because the defendant did not have to actually place the vehicle into motion. Further, the charge was proper because the defendant was merely capable of moving the vehicle. The outcome of this case still applies today. Therefore, if you are found behind the wheel of a parked car, the police can charge you with a DUI if your blood alcohol content is above the state legal limit. Whether the key is in the ignition or whether the engine was running is not clear sign of innocence.
How to Avoid a Parked Car DUI
If you have had something to drink, it is best to stay clear of your vehicle. Do not attempt to sit in the driver's the seat with or without the keys on your person. Even more, do not place the keys inside the ignition and do not allow the engine to run. Always arrange a responsible designated driver. If you are not able to locate a designated driver, take a taxi. You can also easily arrange a ride through the many reliable ride-sharing companies. If you are concerned about safety, ensure that you have a friend along with you. Overall, there are many ways to avoid a parked car DUI. The last thing you should do while intoxicated is take a short trip to your car and have a seat behind the wheel. It is those short-term decisions that result in lasting repercussions for the long-term.
Need Legal Assistance with a DUI Case?
Mississippi attorney, James Robert Ferguson, is an experienced DUI attorney who is ready to defend you. He understands the complexities of Mississippi DUI laws and he will guide you through the process in a diligent manner. Contact us for a consultation today.