Being charged with a crime can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you’re not familiar with the particular charge being brought against you. Physical control charges are considered serious criminal offenses that carry severe consequences in many states.
If you have been arrested on a physical control charge or fear you may be facing one in the future, it’s vital to understand what this offense entails and how it could impact your life.
“Failing to take action after being charged with physical control can lead to fines, jail time, license suspension, and other severe penalties.”
In this article, we’ll dive into what physical control charges mean, how they differ from DUIs, and why they should always be taken seriously by those facing them.
You’ll learn about potential legal defenses for these charges, including plea bargaining and building evidence to support your case. Additionally, we’ll discuss the differences between physical control charges, reckless driving, and endangerment, along with possible ways to mitigate their effects on your life.
No matter your circumstances, understanding any criminal charge thoroughly will give you a better chance of defending yourself successfully. Read on to get started on learning more about physical control charges today.
Definition of Physical Control Charge
A physical control charge is a criminal offense committed by an individual who is found to be in “physical control” of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This charges often leads to suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, fines and possible jail time.
What is a Physical Control Charge?
A physical control charge can occur when someone is found sitting in their car with the keys in the ignition, even if they’re not driving at the present moment. Although not explicitly stated in some states’ DUI laws, being in “actual physical control” of a vehicle applies to anyone who could theoretically drive the vehicle while under the influence, such as someone sleeping in the backseat with the keys nearby. The charge has serious legal consequences, especially if it’s repeated several times or involves harm to people or property.
How is Physical Control Defined?
The term ‘actual physical control’ is used over ‘driving’ because courts have determined that actual physical control over a vehicle means having possession of the vehicle’s key(s) – despite whether the engine is on or off – and being able to operate the vehicle within a reasonably short period of time. There must also be a physical or mental ability for an individual to operate a car. Guidelines assume that intoxicated persons are still capable of intentionally moving themselves into the driver’s seat, turning on the engine, or refraining from any moves that might lead them to lose power over the car.
Examples of Physical Control Charges
If you’re parked on the side of the road and asleep behind the wheel (even if the keys aren’t in the ignition), you may face a physical control charge. If there are visible signs of intoxication like open alcohol containers or illegal substances in your car, it could add to the charge and increase penalties. If an officer stops you while driving erratically or breaking a traffic law while intoxicated but then puts the vehicle in park before he can approach the vehicle, this is also a physical control charge as long as all other conditions are met.
How is Physical Control Charge Different from DUI?
A DUI (Driving Under Intoxication) means that one actually has driven a motor vehicle while under influence whereas a Physical control offense only requires you to prove having care control of the car and being physically present inside. Even with no evidence of driving, those charged with physical control will still face serious consequences including fines, jail time, license suspension/revocation among others. However, in some states, the same penalties apply for Physical Control and DUI convictions only differing based on the actual nature of the crime committed, such as whether there was any property damage or bodily injury caused by the driver’s conduct.
“Alcohol abuse can lead to PHYSICAL CONTROL offenses which have just as many severe penalties as DUI/DWI violations.” -Naresh Vissa
If an individual is found to be “in actual physical control” of their vehicle whilst under the effects of drugs or alcohol, they could be arrested and brought up on charges. Penalties and potential outcomes differ across state lines. Those facing such investigation should immediately speak to an attorney who can guide them properly through the legal process.
How Physical Control Charge Differs from DUI
A physical control charge is a serious offense that can result in hefty fines and imprisonment. It is similar to a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charge, but there are distinct differences between these two types of charges.
What is the Difference Between Physical Control and DUI?
The main difference between physical control and DUI is the element of driving versus operating or controlling a vehicle. With DUI, a person is charged with operating or being in “physical control” of a moving vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This means they must be behind the wheel of an automobile. However, with physical control charges, a person doesn’t necessarily have to be driving; rather, they only need to be sitting in the driver’s seat with access to the car keys.
For example, if an individual goes out drinking and decides to sleep it off in their parked car, with the intention of not driving until sober, they could still be arrested for physical control charges. If proven by law enforcement authorities that the individual had possession of the keys and was capable of operating the vehicle, then he/she could face severe penalties and fines as per state laws and regulations.
What are the Similarities Between Physical Control and DUI?
Physical control and DUI share several similarities when it comes to legal consequences. Both offenses fall under the same statute, and those who violate them may face comparable punishments. These include jail time, fines, suspension of licenses, installation of ignition interlock devices and even forced entry into drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers.
Both offenses also require probable cause for arrest. Probable cause allows law enforcement officers to make arrests based on evidence they see at the time of contact. Suspicion alone does not constitute probable cause. Usually, Police officers will investigate the driver or person with a physical control charge before making an arrest. They check if there is any odor of alcohol, behavioral observations such as slurred speech and unsteadiness, bloodshot eyes, etc. Based on these factors that exhibit signs of being under intoxication, they decide whether to make an arrest or not.
Why is Physical Control Charge Less Severe Than DUI?
The severity of the punishments varies in each state and depends entirely on the circumstances surrounding the incident. However, many states classify physical control charges as a lesser offense than DUI; therefore, defendants convicted for physical control tend to receive more lenient sentences than those charged with DUI offenses. This difference exists mainly because driving without a license causes greater danger to other people on the road, and it leaves significant room for error.
If found guilty of DUI in some States, mandatory minimum jail sentences, fines, and suspension of licenses come into effect, where Judges do not have discretionary powers. On the other hand, with physical control charges, judges often have a little more discretion when it comes down to sentencing ranges, depending upon individual cases. Even though both offenses are relatively similar, the lack of actual movement behind the wheel could help lessen the penalties associated with physical control charges.
“It’s important to remember that choosing to sit behind the steering wheel after drinking, even if you don’t plan to drive, can result in serious consequences. It’s always better to avoid sitting inside the car while being intoxicated.”
While physical control charges and DUIs differ in some essential aspects, both break offshoots from the same branch of law. Therefore, individuals need to understand what constitutes the penalty of a physical control crime so they can take preventative measures and protect themselves from wrongful conviction and legal issues related to vehicle handling rules and regulations.
Consequences of a Physical Control Charge
If you’ve recently been charged with physical control, it’s essential to understand what this charge means and what potential consequences you may face. A physical control charge is given when an individual is found operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol but not necessarily driving the car itself. In this article, we’ll explore the penalties for this charge, how it affects your driving record, and what happens if you refuse a blood or breathalyzer test.
What are the Penalties for a Physical Control Charge?
The severity of the penalty for a physical control charge will depend on various factors, including the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, any previous DUI convictions, and other circumstances surrounding the arrest. In general, most states treat physical control charges as misdemeanors, which can come with serious fines, community service requirements, and jail time. These penalties may include:
- A fine ranging from $500-$5,000+
- License suspension for several months to up to two years
- Community service hours, typically around 50-100 hours
- Jail time ranging anywhere from a few days to a year or more depending on the state laws and whether there was bodily injury involved
- Court fees and probation fees
Keep in mind that these consequences can also vary substantially between states; some states have harsher sentencing guidelines than others, so it’s crucial to speak with a qualified attorney if you’re facing a physical control charge.
How Does a Physical Control Charge Affect Your Driving Record?
In addition to the financial and legal penalties, you’ll also typically face severe ramifications on your driving record if you’re convicted of a physical control charge. This means that any future employers, insurers, or other organizations looking at your background may see this conviction and view you negatively as a result. A few consequences to expect include:
- The physical control charge will appear on your driving record for several years after the arrest (usually 3-7 years)
- Your car insurance rates may rise significantly due to the increased risk associated with DUI charges
- You may be required to use an ignition interlock device before operating a vehicle in some states
What are the Consequences of Refusing a Blood or Breathalyzer Test?
If you’re facing a physical control charge, you’ll likely be eager to avoid any additional legal penalties. However, refusing a blood or breathalyzer test can also have severe consequences on its own. In almost every state, the refusal to take a chemical test is illegal. The exact implications of this refusal will depend largely on state laws; some jurisdictions impose harsher penalties than others.
In general, however, there are four main potential outcomes of refusing a breathalyzer test:
- A license suspension lasting from 30 days to over a year depending on the state
- An increase in total fines and other penalties
- Court-mandated installation of an ignition interlock device even if it’s your first offense
- Possible criminal charges for obstruction or another related crime in some areas
“Refusal could lead to ‘tough’ penalties such as being labelled a drunk driver and enduring whatever consequences flow from being deemed one.” – Toronto Sun
To avoid these additional complications, it’s always best to comply with testing requirements when requested by the police officer. Although this may not ultimately prevent a physical control charge, it can sometimes help to reduce the severity of the case.
A physical control charge is a serious offense that can have severe consequences for years after your arrest. If you’re facing charges or have recently been arrested for DUI or DWI, speaking with a qualified attorney is essential in understanding your options and the potential penalties involved.
Factors That Affect Physical Control Charge Penalties
A physical control charge is a serious offense that can result in significant penalties if convicted. This type of charge typically involves operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol but not actually driving on the road. However, penalties for this charge can vary depending on various factors.
What are the Aggravating Factors for a Physical Control Charge?
In many states, there are aggravating factors that can significantly increase the penalties for a physical control charge. These factors may include having a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC), causing an accident or injury while under the influence, and having previous DUI/DWI convictions.
Additionally, some states have specific laws related to physical control charges. For example, in Washington State, a person can be charged with physical control even if they’re parked on private property, which can further complicate their case and lead to harsher penalties.
“Aggravating factors such as prior drunk driving offenses or high BAC levels can lead to more severe penalties for those facing physical control charges.” – J. Dean Keegan, Iowa attorney
What are the Mitigating Factors for a Physical Control Charge?
On the other hand, there may also be mitigating factors that could potentially reduce the penalties for a physical control charge. Some possible mitigating factors include cooperating with law enforcement, completing substance abuse treatment programs, and showing remorse for one’s actions.
In some cases, a skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate a lesser penalty by presenting evidence of these mitigating factors to the court.
“Mitigation can range from finding flaws in the prosecution’s arguments to demonstrating that your client has taken steps to avoid similar mistakes in the future, to seeking alternative sentencing arrangements.” – Andrew Mishlove, Wisconsin attorney
How Does Prior Criminal History Affect Physical Control Charge Penalties?
A person’s prior criminal history can also have a significant impact on the penalties for a physical control charge. In general, someone with no prior DUI/DWI convictions is likely to face less severe penalties than someone who has been convicted multiple times.
In some cases, having a prior criminal history may even result in enhanced penalties or additional charges. For example, if someone was previously convicted of vehicular homicide while under the influence, they could potentially face more serious charges and penalties for a subsequent physical control offense.
“A criminal defendant with a prior record is normally seen as a greater risk to reoffend than one without.” – Nolo Legal Encyclopedia
Can a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Help Reduce Penalties for a Physical Control Charge?
If you’re facing a physical control charge, it’s crucial to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. A skilled lawyer can help guide you through the legal process, review the evidence against you, and develop a strong defense strategy tailored to your specific circumstances.
Furthermore, a seasoned criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with prosecutors that could lead to reduced charges or penalties. This can be especially beneficial in cases where aggravating factors exist.
“Having an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side throughout the entire legal process can help protect your rights and ensure the best possible outcome for your case.” – Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, Denver-based law firm
It’s essential to take physical control charges seriously and seek qualified legal representation as soon as possible. The consequences of a conviction can be life-changing, but working with a skilled attorney can give you the best chance at a favorable outcome.
How to Fight a Physical Control Charge
Being charged with physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense that can have long-lasting consequences. It means you were in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence, regardless of whether you were actively driving it or not. If you or someone close to you has been charged with physical control, it’s important to understand what this charge entails and how you can fight it.
What are the Possible Defenses for a Physical Control Charge?
There are several defenses available for those facing a physical control charge. Some of the most common defenses include:
- Lack of evidence: The prosecution must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were operating your vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. However, if the prosecution does not have enough evidence to support their claims, a skilled defense attorney can argue that your charges should be dropped.
- No intent: If you didn’t intend to operate the vehicle and didn’t actually drive it, but were instead sitting behind the wheel with the engine turned off and the keys within reach, this could help show that you weren’t technically in “actual physical control” of the car.
- Faulty sobriety test results: If law enforcement officials failed to perform field sobriety tests correctly, your lawyer may successfully suppress the results due to insufficient training, equipment malfunction, etc.
- Rising BAC: If you consumed alcohol before driving but were not legally drunk when stopped by police, your defense attorney may raise the argument of “Rising Blood Alcohol Content” – which suggests that your BAC level was still below the legal limit while driving but rose after being pulled over due to alcohol still in your system from prior consumption.
How Can a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Help Fight a Physical Control Charge?
A competent criminal defense lawyer can assist you when contesting your charge of physical control. The attorney will evaluate the particulars of the case, interview witnesses or investigators, and assess ample evidence against you.
An accomplished lawyer with a wealth of experience dealing with physical control charges can use their expertise to create a powerful defense strategy for your specific situation. They may also negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf, plead to lesser charges, or work towards reduced penalties if convicted, depending on the circumstances
What is the Importance of Evidence in a Physical Control Charge Case?
The role of evidence cannot be overstated in fighting a physical control charge. Physical control cases are complex since the defendant’s choice to drive the vehicle isn’t necessary; they were likely caught in or near the auto by law enforcement officials. Therefore, it comes down to the prosecution providing adequate proof that you were operating the motor vehicle while under influence, as well as whether there was sufficient reason to conduct field sobriety tests in the first place.
This is where a skilled criminal defense attorney becomes essential. With their ability to critique evidence provided by the prosecution, an experienced lawyer can identify any gaps or weaknesses present within the case and point them out to the court.
What are the Possible Outcomes of Fighting a Physical Control Charge?
When attempting to combat physical control charges, several results are possible, including:
- Guilty verdict: A guilty verdict means that you lose your case and receive a conviction.
- Plea agreement: A defendent may reach a plea agreement with the prosecution. By doing so, they plead guilty to lesser charges or negotiated terms of their punishment.
- Case dismissal:A judge could rule that there just isn’t enough evidence to convict you on the charges filed – thus your physical control charge getting dismissed completely
- Not guilty verdict: If you’re found not guilty, it means that the court didn’t see sufficient evidence against you to establish guilt beyond a “reasonable” doubt.
“A good defense attorney can make all the difference for someone charged with Physical Control. In some cases, the best defense is an affirmative one where an individual takes full responsibility and shows they’ve learned from the situation due to field sobriety tests being flawed.” – Mark Adachi, Defense Attorney at Seattle DUI pros
Fighting a physical control charge may seem challenging, but it’s essential to remember that it is possible to beat this charge by working with knowledgeable legal counsel, selecting proper defenses, understanding procedures, preparing appropriate documentation, and providing examples of similar outcomes in prior cases. The earlier you get help from an experienced lawyer, the better chance you have to keep yourself protected from severe consequences. Remember, each case is unique; be sure to discuss yours closely with your attorney before planning how to fight it.
Why You Need a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney for a Physical Control Charge
A physical control charge is a common legal offense, but that doesn’t mean it’s not serious. If you have been charged with physical control, you need to act quickly and contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. It’s important to understand the consequences of this type of charge and how a skilled lawyer can help protect your rights.
What is the Importance of a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney in a Physical Control Charge Case?
A physical control charge means that you were in “physical control” of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unlike a DUI, you do not necessarily need to be driving or even moving the vehicle to be charged with this offense. This might seem like a minor distinction, but it actually makes defending against a physical control charge much more challenging than other types of drunk driving offenses.
Having a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side is crucial in these situations because they know how to interpret the law and use it in your favor. They will evaluate the evidence against you, including police reports, breathalyzer or blood test results, and witness statements, to build a strong case in your defense. They will also use their knowledge and experience to negotiate with prosecutors and judges to try and minimize the penalties you face.
How Can a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Help Protect Your Rights?
One of the most significant ways a skilled criminal defense attorney can help you is by fighting for your rights. Everyone has specific protections under the law, and a good lawyer will make sure yours are not violated during your case. They can file motions to have evidence thrown out if it was obtained illegally, question witnesses’ credibility, and challenge laws or regulations that may have been misapplied.
Your attorney can also be your voice in court, a sounding board for decisions, and a guide through the legal system. They will work with you to develop a strategy that meets your needs and goals while considering any ongoing issues such as addiction treatment programs or other rehabilitation options.
What are the Benefits of Hiring a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney for a Physical Control Charge?
The benefits of hiring a skilled criminal defense attorney for a physical control charge are many. These include:
- Reduced penalties: Your lawyer may be able to negotiate on your behalf for reduced fines, probation instead of jail time, or other alternative sentencing options.
- Certainty and clarity during the legal process: Because a good criminal defense attorney knows how to navigate the legal system effectively, they can provide you with peace of mind knowing that someone is fighting for your best interests.
- Avoidance of self-incrimination: Talking to prosecutors or investigators without counsel can open up the possibility of saying something incriminating, but with a lawyer present, you don’t have to worry about accidentally revealing anything damaging.
- Professional representation: You’ll benefit from having an experienced professional on your side who understands both the law and the unique circumstances surrounding your case. This expertise is invaluable when it comes to developing strategies that can minimize the charges against you.
“A knowledgeable defense attorney can often identify solid defenses and make persuasive arguments on your behalf, which can lead to prosecution dismissal or reduction in charges.” -Nolo
No one wants to face a physical control charge, but the reality is that these offenses occur more often than most people realize. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s critical to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help protect your rights and minimize the consequences you face. With their help, you have a better chance of successfully fighting this type of charge and putting it behind you for good.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a physical control charge and how is it defined?
A physical control charge is a criminal offense that prohibits individuals from operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In many states, physical control is defined as being in control of a vehicle while intoxicated, even if the vehicle isn’t being driven. This means that individuals can be charged with physical control if they’re sleeping in their car while intoxicated, for example.
What are the consequences of being charged with physical control?
Consequences of physical control charges vary depending on the state and the severity of the offense. In most cases, individuals can face fines, license suspension, and even jail time. Physical control charges can also result in a criminal record, which can have long-lasting effects on an individual’s life, including difficulty finding employment or housing.
What are the differences between a physical control charge and a DUI charge?
While physical control charges and DUI charges both involve operating a vehicle while under the influence, there are some key differences. Physical control charges often apply to individuals who are in control of a vehicle but not actually driving it, while DUI charges typically require individuals to be actively driving. Additionally, the consequences and penalties for physical control charges may be less severe than those for DUI charges.
What are some common defenses for those facing physical control charges?
Common defenses for physical control charges include arguing that the individual was not actually in control of the vehicle or that they were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the offense. In some cases, individuals may also be able to argue that their constitutional rights were violated during the arrest or that the evidence against them was obtained illegally.
What should I do if I am facing a physical control charge?
If you’re facing a physical control charge, it’s important to seek the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney can help you understand your rights, build a defense strategy, and work towards a favorable outcome. It’s also important to avoid discussing the charges with anyone other than your attorney and to comply with any court orders or requests related to the case.