It’s true, driving is not actually a requirement to be charged and convicted with driving under the influence. Many clients have come in and told their story of being arrested hours after having anything to drink, while sleeping in a car in a private parking lot, and even while walking outside of their car. While these situations do present possible legal and factual defenses, under the letter of the law, many of those people were at least legally charged with DUI. One Tennessee man was even convicted when walking back to his motorcycle, with a part that needed to be replaced before he could drive it away, that he had just bought!
Tennessee law makes it illegal to drive or be in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence, which leads to the reasonable question of, what does physical control mean exactly? The Tennessee Supreme Court attempted to answer that question in State v. Lawrence. Mr. Lawrence was found asleep behind the wheel of his truck, leaning toward the passenger side. The engine was off and the keys were in his pocket. He was alone. He was found guilty of DUI for being in physical control of the truck and the Supreme Court upheld the conviction. It said that the jury should consider the “totality of the circumstances” in deciding whether someone had control of the vehicle and that the jury should consider things like where the defendant was in the vehicle, where the keys were, whether the motor was running, whether the vehicle could be or was capable of being driven. The Court seemed to find it important that the car could have been immediately placed in motion and could have therefore become dangerous at any time.If you were arrested and charged with DUI in Tennessee even though you weren’t driving the vehicle, contact Barnes Law Firm in Knoxville immediately.