Almost everyone knows that driving a vehicle after drinking could lead to a DUI (drinking under the influence) charge. But did you know you could face charges even if you’re not behind the wheel?
APC or “actual physical control” is a legal charge that could occur if you are found to be in your vehicle while intoxicated, even if you are not driving. All the police have to prove is that you had the ability to drive while intoxicated.
The most common example of APC involves the decision to sleep in the car to avoid driving home while under the influence. Other examples of APC that police officers look for are how accessible the keys are to the suspect. If the officer witnesses keys in the ignition (even if the car is not on) or within reach, such as on the seat or floorboard, he or she can proceed with a BAC test. If the breathalyzer registers over 0.08, the suspect may be charged with APC.
Being capable of starting a car and driving it while you are intoxicated carries serious criminal consequences. The only way to avoid legal trouble is to stay as far away from a vehicle as possible.
State laws and consequences
Oklahoma has a lengthy law titled “Being in Actual Physical Control of a Motor Vehicle While Under the [Combined] Influence of Alcohol/(An Intoxicating Substance).” It mandates that prosecutors have to prove specific components beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a suspect of APC.
APC convictions carry severe criminal penalties. While first offenses are considered misdemeanors, participation in alcohol and drug substance abuse evaluation and assessment programs are required. Following all recommendations is mandatory. First-time offenders can also see the inside of a jail cell between 10 days and a year, not to mention paying fines of up $1,000.
Second offenses within ten years of completing sentence requirements or deferred judgment are also charged as felony crimes. The same program mandates are in place. However, jail time can increase up to five years, with fines capped at $2,500. All three punitive measures from the first offense can be imposed as well.
Arrests to do mean that convictions are inevitable. The help of a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney could make a difference in the outcome of serious drunk driving or actual physical control charges.