man sad with sirens in background

Caught with the Keys in the Ignition

Driving under the influence is a very serious charge in Michigan and everywhere else in the country. It is against the law to be behind the wheel while intoxicated as a result of alcohol or drug use. However, even if you are not actually driving your car, if you are found to be in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition and are under the influence, you can be charged.

Many people choose to sleep off the alcohol when they have had too much to drink and have their vehicles in tow. In Okemos, Michigan, this practice can lead to a DUI charge if a police officer happens to see you.

Operating a Vehicle in Michigan OWI Charge

Generally speaking, if you are found to be asleep in your parked car with the keys in the ignition, you can land in serious trouble if you have alcohol or drugs present in your system. If a police officer comes over and finds that you are intoxicated, you can be arrested on the charge of operating while intoxicated or OWI. This is a charge that can be handed down if you are in physical control of the vehicle.

Physical Control Defined

In a DUI charge given to someone found asleep or behind the wheel of a car while not driving, the prosecution is required to prove the defendant was actually in physical control of the vehicle. In Michigan, the charge is not referred to as a DUI but OWI, which refers to an act other than driving.

The reason the charge can be given to a person asleep in their car is that, while they may be sleeping, the individual has the ability to operate the vehicle ultimately.

This holds true even if the vehicle was turned off at the time. If someone is intoxicated and has that chance, police can arrest and charge them with OWI.

Operating While a Car Is Parked

If you are found sitting in a car’s driver’s seat, by law, Michigan states that you have the physical ability to control the vehicle even if it’s parked with the engine turned off. If a police officer witnessed you before you parked to sleep, they could also point out that you had to drive to the parking spot beforehand while intoxicated. However, this would be considered circumstantial evidence, which could potentially work in your favor.

Importance of Hiring an Attorney

If you are in this situation and have been arrested on OWI charges in Michigan, you need an experienced Okemos criminal defense attorney on your side. The best chance you have to get the charges against you either reduced or dropped altogether is to consult with a skilled Okemos criminal defense attorney immediately.

Give our team at White Law PLLC a call today (517) 316-1195 to learn more about how we can help.