Should I get an attorney? 71 Answers as of May 30, 2013

I was caught by a policeman sitting inside my car listening to music. Yes, I was drunk but I was not driving. I was just parked in front of my friend's house. The key is in the ignition because I was listening to the radio. Can this still be considered as DUI? Will I still get the same penalties as the usual drunk driving offenses? The car was in park mode when he approached me.

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Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
I would recommend that if anybody is charged with an OUI, that they either retain a lawyer or ask the court to appoint them one at the public's expense. Given the long term and short-term consequences of a possible conviction, anybody charged with that offense needs to know their rights.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/11/2012
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
If you haven't resolved this already the answer is a definite yes.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/17/2012
Law Office of Phillip Weiser
Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
A DUI can be charged whenever a person is operating or attempting to operate a vehicle while under the influence to the point of impairment. The facts as you give them could be sufficient to show attempt.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 3/16/2012
The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady
The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady | Kevin O'Grady
Many factual scenarios may look bad to start, but with an aggressive attorney you may be able to avoid a DUI conviction. Hire an attorney early so that he can do the most for you.
Answer Applies to: Hawaii
Replied: 3/14/2012
Anderson Law Office
Anderson Law Office | Scott L. Anderson
Unfortunately you were in control of the vehicle and are subjected to the same laws and penalties as if you were driving on the roadway.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 3/14/2012
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    Yes, you should seek advise from an attorney. In Michigan, simply being intoxicated in a motor vehicle while the keys are within reach can be enough to convict you of a DUI.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/13/2012
    Law Office of Thomas A. Medford, Jr., PC
    Law Office of Thomas A. Medford, Jr., PC | Thomas A. Medford, Jr.
    If the keys were in the ignition and the car could be driven into the street the arrest appears vaild and I would suggest you contact an attorney as soon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: District of Columbia
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    The Short Law Group, P.C.
    The Short Law Group, P.C. | Shawn Kollie
    It is always wise to talk with an experienced DUI Lawyer with facts like these. Although it may be obvious to you that you were not driving, the officer may think otherwise. Under Oregon Law you could be charged with a DUI even if there is only circumstantial evidence pointing to you driving (i.e. sitting in your car in the driver's seat). Contact a DUI Lawyer in your area about the facts of your specific case.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    The law makes no disticnction between driving under the influence and being drunk in possession. The penalties are the same. You may want to seriously consider hiring an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Germaine & Blaszka, P.A.
    Germaine & Blaszka, P.A. | Donald L. Blaszka, Jr.
    I suggest retaining an attorney to represent you in your case based upon the facts that you provided. A person charged with DWI, 1st Offense in NH is a Class B Misdemeanor (a criminal offense) and is facing the following minimum penalties if a person pleads guilty or is convicted after trial: $500 fine + $120 penalty assessment, 9 month loss of license, with the ability to reduce the loss of license to 90 days if the person enters into the relevant Impaired Driver Intervention Program (IDIP) and successful completion of IDIP The maximum penalty is $1,200 fine + 24% penalty assessment, 2 year loss of license. This does not include any administrative license suspension that could be imposed by the NH Department of Safety which is separate from any court penalties. Under New Hampshire law, the penalties are not different if you were just parked listening to music. In addition, under New Hampshire law, you are considered to be "driving" or "operating" a motor vehicle if you have actual physical control of a motor vehicle - in other words the capacity bodily to guide or exercise dominion over the vehicle at the time.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    McClendon Owens Melia McBreen LLP
    McClendon Owens Melia McBreen LLP | Richard L. McBreen III
    If you are being charged with DUII, you should hire an attorney. If the state is going to argue that you drove the vehicle while drunk, they may be able to convict you depending on what evidence they'll be able to produce.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Law Office of Ronald Aronds, LLC
    Law Office of Ronald Aronds, LLC | Ronald Aronds
    Each case is unique so it is impossible to say what will happen in your case. However, based solely on what you write it sounds to me like you have a case that I would be willing to take to trial.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Connell-Savela
    Connell-Savela | Jason Savela
    You probably lose at DMV but you can win at trial if there was no intent to drive
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Law Office of Michael R. Garber
    Law Office of Michael R. Garber | Michael R. Garber
    You should at least talk to a lawyer. You can be charged with DWI if you're in the driver's seat with the motor off if you are intoxicated.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 3/12/2012
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    The operative question is whether or not you were operating a motor vehicle on a road, highway, or public place while intoxicated. Lets start with the obvious - were you in a motor vehicle? Yes. Were you on a road, highway or public place? Yes. Were you intoxicated? Yes. This leaves only the definition of "operation". Unfortunately for you, the definition is more akin to being inside and in control, not necessarily moving. There is a good argument for jury nullification. You may also challenge on the grounds of why the cop was there to begin with and if he had any reason or right to both you at all. But these questions need discovery and analytical review that should be done by a lawyer. Accordingly, YES, you should hire a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law
    Charles M. Schiff, Attorney at Law | Charles M. Schiff
    The DUI statute does cover "operation" and "physical control" of a vehicle in addition to "driving". Your activity would likely fall within the definitions of both. The penalties would be the same as if you were caught driving.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Yes you should get an attorney. The phrase is operating a motor vehicle and the police will try to say that what you did was enough. You may have to convince a jury that you were not operating a vehicle.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Yes because of the Physical Control statute. You definitely should hire an experienced DUI defense attorney because it may have been unlawful for him or her to contact you.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    Drunk driving is like firing a gun at a moving train and hoping that no one gets hit by the bullets. You can be charged with DWI if you are behind the wheel and the keys are in the ignition. You should retain a good criminal attorney to handle the case. My office charges $1,500 and we are in every city in New York. If you were not driving and you passed the field sobriety tests you may be able to win the case. Unless you blew over .08 BAC you have a chance to either be acquitted or get a reduced DWUi violation. Either way, it is foolish to get behind the wheel of a car with more than two drinks in your system.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    Yes to all - you were operating within the meaning of the law and yes you absolutely need an attorney!
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Hynum Law Office, LLC
    Hynum Law Office, LLC | G. Wayne Hynum
    Yes, I would advise you to get an attorney. If your car was parked on a public street with the key in the ignition and your blood alcohol content was above the legal limit, you can be found guilty of DUI. There are potential defenses in that situation depending on the facts of the case however, so I advise you to get an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    The Pilgrim Law Firm
    The Pilgrim Law Firm | Marc Pilgrim
    Yes. You should get an attorney because cases are usually not dismissed just on the facts, they often require hard work on behalf of your attorney. Regarding penalties, if you are convicted your penalties will be the range set by the DUI statute.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Tennison & Soberon-Llort, PL | Christina Soberon-Llort
    You do not have to actually be driving a car in order to be convicted of DUI. The State has to establish that you had actual physical control of the vehicle and that the vehicle was capable of being driven at that moment. DUIs are very serious in Florida, it's a conviction that can never be expunged from your record. I would highly recommend hiring an attorney to help you with your case.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Russman Law
    Russman Law | Ryan Russman
    Yes. The State must prove you were operating your vehicle.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Healan Law Offices
    Healan Law Offices | William D. Healan, III
    In Georgia, you must be operating a MOVING vehicle to be guilty of DUI. You absolutely need to hire a lawyer to fight the charge.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Goodgame Law, LLC
    Goodgame Law, LLC | Jeffrey L Goodgame
    You should definitely retain a DUI attorney to represent you. A first DUI conviction can result in serious consequences including a fine up to $2,100, up to a 1 year jail sentence, and suspension of your driver?s license for 90 days. A DUI conviction is listed as a misdemeanor crime on your record. An experienced DUI attorney can challenge the prosecutor's case in several ways.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    If you were arrested for DWI, then you definitely need a lawyer. There is a case out there that would support a conviction, but these factual situations are definitely winnable at trial with a good lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Law Offices of Douglas J. Lindsay
    Law Offices of Douglas J. Lindsay | Douglas J. Lindsay
    If in fact you have been charged with DUI yes, you need an attorney. You indicate that the key was in the ignition but you do not indicate whether or not the engine was running. There may be legal issues that could be argued to your favor so as to challenge each element of the DUI statute. If the legal argument are not successful, it is up to the trier of fact (Judge or jury) to determine your guilt or innocence. And yes if found guilty, you would be subject to the same penalties "... as the usual ..." drunk driver.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Fairlie & Lippy, P.C.
    Fairlie & Lippy, P.C. | Steven Fairlie
    This is a very unfair set of circumstances but lots of people have been convicted for the same facts you described. It is not automatic so get a good lawyer. The penalties are the same as for any other DUI.\
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Attorney at Law | Ernest Krause
    Could still be DUI. The DA will reduce charge to "wet reckless." But still on your record. Have you been charged If so, get the Public Defender or, if you have some money, an attorney who knows the law. He/she might get a dismissal.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    Yes the penalties will be the same as if you were driving, because they will use circumstantial evidence to show that you were driving just a few moments prior. But you do have a great case. You need to consult a DUI specialist, because it would be such a waste if you were to just go to court by yourself and plead guilty on this type of a no-drive case. And remember you have only 10 days to save your license.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    The Gorman Law Firm | Scott Gorman
    You should absolutely talk to an attorney who is familiar with DWI defense. Whether or not you are convicted of DWI will likely hinge upon whether your defense attorney can successfully defeat the State's argument that you either operated the car or intended to operate it. Based on your description of the facts, the State will likely argue that the fact that you were sitting in the driver's seat with the engine running (if it was running) and with the key in the ignition is proof of your intention to operate the car or proof that you actually operated the car while under the influence. However, there are cases in which defendants who were seated in the driver's seat of their vehicles with the engines running successfully defended against the charge of DWI. If you are convicted of DWI, the penalties would be quite sever
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Law Offices of George Woodworth & Associates
    Law Offices of George Woodworth & Associates | George Woodworth
    Yes, you should get an experienced DUI Attorney right away. The D.A. probably will take the position that you were "operating the vehicle" just by putting the key in the ignition, and turning the key to the accessory spot. Your Attorney can stand up for you on this point, and may get the case resolved!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    I do not know whether or not you were driving.. perhaps someone saw you driving and called the police. I can't know without seeing the police reports. If this is the case, then you could be DUI. If there is no observed driving, you could still be charged with physical control. You also do not tell me your age. If you are under 21 (under the legal age to consume alcohol) , this could also add to your problems and to the types of charges that could be filed. My advice: Hire an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law | Michael Maltby
    Yes, you should definitely get an attorney. This is called being in physical control (while under the influence) and it is treated the same as a DUI, assuming they can prove it.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Law Offices of James A Bates
    Law Offices of James A Bates | James A Bates
    The prosecution must prove, even by circumstantial evidence, that you had been driving. Was the engine warm? If you were actually drunk you can be convicted of being drunk in public but that requires more than just being under the influence. Fight this.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Stephen D. Hebert, LLC | Stephen Hebert
    It sounds like you may have a defense. Nonetheless, you should always hire a lawyer, even when you don't have a defense, because the lawyer can help you navigate this matter so that you can expunge the arrest and conviction from your record upon the completion of the probationary period, instead of having to wait for years.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    Can this still be considered as DUI? YES, of course, that is why you got arrested. Of course you can fight the charges. When arrested or charged with any crime, the proper questions are, can any evidence obtained in a test, search or confession be used against you, can you be convicted, and what can you do? Raise all appropriate defenses with whatever witnesses, evidence and sympathies are available for legal arguments, for evidence suppression or other motions, or for trial. If you don't know how to represent yourself effectively against an experienced prosecutor intending to convict, then hire an attorney that does, who will try to get a dismissal, diversion program, reduction, or other decent outcome through plea bargain, or take it to trial if appropriate. A little free advice: When arrested for DUI, whether alcohol or drugs, then upon release from jail or booking the defendant is given documents that include a notice that you have only ten days to file a request with DMV for a hearing on an appeal of an automatic suspension of your license imposed by DMV. That is separate and runs consecutively with any suspension that may be imposed by the court. Contact DMV and do so, timely, then appear at your scheduled DMV appeal hearing and present any supporting evidence and testimony. If you don't know how to do these things effectively, then hire an attorney that does.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Salladay Law Office | Lance Salladay
    Yes you are in physical control of the vehicle with the key in the ignition and that is essentially the same as a DUI- the penalties by statute are the same but the circumstances might provide for a lesser sentence. You should get an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    YES, you need to hire an aggressive DWI attorney in your area. The case you need to research is Allocca v State of Texas. That is the wheeling issue. You may have been drunk, but not operating. You have a huge issue with your case, but only a lawyer can win it for you.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Anthony Saunders Esq., PLLC | Anthony M. Saunders
    In Utah, you can be charged with DUI if your car is parked and not even running. A DUI can have serious consequences and with the 10 days to request s DMV hearing starting on the day of your arrest, it is important that you hire an attorney to represent you immediately. You should speak to a qualified DUI attorney in order to protect your rights and ensure the best solution for your case.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    If the hood was warm, and you were drunk and the keys were in the ignition, you are in control of the vehicle while intoxicated. You will face the same penalty as the guy stopped at the road block. Yes, you need an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Collins Law Firm, P.A.
    Collins Law Firm, P.A. | John C. Collins
    In Arkansas it doesn't matter if you are driving or even intending to drive. Actual physical control is what the courts are looking for. Contact a qualified dwi attorney for a more thorough explanation.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Yes. You canbe convicted. It'll be up to the jury to decide if you were operating or not.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Ayodele M. Ojo & Associates
    Ayodele M. Ojo & Associates | Ayodele Mayowa Ojo
    Yes, you will get DUI, it called physical control because you could have at any time driven the motorvehicle And you have consumed alcohol withing two hours of you being in the car
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    The Law Office of Stephanie M. Arrache
    The Law Office of Stephanie M. Arrache | Stephanie Arrache
    You should definitely get an attorney to fight this! A good attorney could get this case dismissed on the grounds of nonmovement.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Jason Overton, Attorney at Law
    Jason Overton, Attorney at Law | Jason Overton
    In Alabama, the DUI law requires only that you be in control of the vehicle. Yes, you need an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Law Office of Michael Bialys THE DUI MAN
    Law Office of Michael Bialys THE DUI MAN | Michael Bialys
    Because you were not driving, and assuming there are not wittiness to your driving you have a very plausible defense. Always better to get an attorney especially under these circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    If this occurred in Illinois, being in the driver's seat with keys in ignition is the same as driving, and you face the same consequences as if you were caught driving the vehicle.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    The Rolloff Law Office, LLC | J. Rolloff
    It could be classified as a DWI - for reasons too silly to explain here. However, due to the rather specific facts necessary to charge and convict someone under these circumstances, I'd strongly suggest you get a lawyer on board ASAP to fight this matter.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Gonzalez Law Associates P.C.
    Gonzalez Law Associates P.C. | Carlos Gonzalez
    Technically yes it can be considered DUI, what NY requires is just a key in the ignition. Get yourself a lawyer ASAP!
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum | Edward J. Blum
    Yes you should get a lawyer. It can be charged as one, if you don't fight they will convict you of DUI.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Pingelton Law Firm | Dan Pingelton
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 5/30/2013
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    They need two things to prove a DUI; 1) test over .079% and actual physical control. I have defended these cases by showing that you were not driving. It's what we call a safe shelter defense.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Law Office of James E. Smith
    Law Office of James E. Smith | James Smith
    Since you were in possession and control of the vehicle you are subject to arrest for DUI. I would recommend getting an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Betts Legal Services
    Betts Legal Services | Shawn M. Betts
    Minnesota allows for a DWI conviction where the person is driving, operating, or in "physical control" of a motor vehicle. If you were in the driver seat with the key in the ignition, you are in physical control of the vehicle. You will likely face the same penalties, although sometimes judges or prosecutors are willing to reduce charges and/or conditions based on no driving conduct. You should definitely seek representation.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Kelly A. Broadbent, Esq.
    Kelly A. Broadbent, Esq. | Kelly Broadbent
    You should contact an attorney immediately. If you are charged with OUI, you may be able to contest the operation of the vehicle.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Ellman and Ellman PC
    Ellman and Ellman PC | Kevin Ellmann
    You would likely be found to have been in "actual physical control" of the vehicle and therefore, liable for DUI. That does not mean the case is particularly strong for the prosecution, especially if there are additional mitigating factors (ie. it was cold outside, etc.) I would suggest you consult with a qualified DUI defense attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Robert Mortland
    Robert Mortland | Law Office of Robert Mortland
    You could be charged with a DUI because you had control over the vehicle.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    Yes. Operating a vehicle is considered very broadly and they will certainly charge you with dwi. An attorney is a must on these kinds of cases. Get the best local attorney you can afford.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    H. Scott Basham, Attorney at Law, P.C. | H. Scott Basham
    You certainly have a valid argument that you weren't driving. A good DUI attorney can tell you how the Georgia courts have reacted to your argument.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 3/9/2012
    Dowdy Law Office
    Dowdy Law Office | J. Scott Dowdy
    If the key was in the ignition, was the motor running? If so, then it is still a DUI and the penalties would depend upon the judge.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 3/8/2012
    The Law Offices of Harold L. Wallin | Harold L. Wallin
    That is enough for a DUI. It is called "actual physical control of a motor vehicle." Juries don't like these cases, though, and sometimes you can get a not guilty. You should discuss this with a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 3/8/2012
    Law Ofices of Thomas G. Harrison, P.C. | Thomas G. Harrison
    Definitely obtain an attorney. It is not a crime to be seated in your car drunk. You must be driving in order to be convicted of drunk driving.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 3/8/2012
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law | Edward A. Kroll
    It sounds as though you have a solid defense to the DUI charge. The state does have to prove you were driving in order to convict you. However, the state will not just dismiss this on your say-so. If you want to fight this charge, then you will need to get an attorney. The penalties can vary depending on your past history and the county where you were arrested.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 3/8/2012
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