In Washington state, you can be arrested for a DUI even if you are not driving your car at the time of arrest through the stipulations of what has been called the “physical control” law. This is what happened to a man who upon being asked for his driver’s license, offered a beer to a cop. On June 18, 2013, police approached the 26-year-old man in the parking lot of a Kent, Washington 7-Eleven. Witnesses had summoned police because the young man appeared intoxicated. The young man’s physical demeanor gave police sufficient grounds to arrest him on DUI charges. Subsequently, it was discovered the young man had three previous DUI arrests, and that his driver’s license had been revoked.
Generally speaking, if the prosecutor has sufficient circumstantial evidence to prove that a person has been driving while intoxicated, that person does not have to be apprehended in the act of driving to be charged with a DUI. Washington state also has a physical control DUI law on its books as RCW 46.61.50. This law makes it a crime to use a vehicle in any way when you are intoxicated, even if you have pulled off the road because you have decided it is a bad idea to drive any further. Regardless of whether you are charged with a straight DUI or a physical control DUI, the blood alcohol limits for legal intoxication are .08 percent.
DUI penalties in Washington state can be severe, and may include jail time, probation, fines and ignition interlock requirements. There will be administrative penalties as well, such as loss of your driving privileges. You may be subject to administrative penalties even if the criminal charges against you are dismissed. If you’ve been charged with either a conventional DUI or a physical control DUI in the state of Washington, it might be in your best interest to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Source: Newser, “DUI Suspect to Cops: Here, Have a Beer,” Matt Cantor, June 18, 2013