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Can I Get A DUI Without Being Pulled Over in Las Vegas?

Published November 14, 2018 by ADRAS & ALTIG, Attorneys at Law
Man drinking a beer while driving

Our standard advice to people is that if you are ever arrested, you need to remain calm and cooperate with police — and call a defense attorney as soon as possible. Occasionally, we hear from a prospective client who has been arrested for DUI in Las Vegas who was not even driving.

You can be charged with DUI in Las Vegas and all of Nevada without driving a car after drinking.

This is possible because the intent of Nevada’s drunk driving laws is to protect the public from the injuries and property damage drunk drivers can do. Nevada’s DUI laws make “driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle” while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances a criminal offense.

Your physical control of a vehicle after you have had too much to drink can get you convicted of drunk driving in Nevada and expose you to harsh penalties. If you drink in Las Vegas and have possession of a motor vehicle, you need to understand what this means.

Have You Been Drinking? Is This Your Vehicle?

Most of the time, a driver arrested for DUI in Las Vegas is stopped after police observed the driver weaving across lanes or committing another infraction. When a Las Vegas police officer smells alcohol, hears slurred speech or observes other signs of intoxication, the officer will ask the driver to perform a field sobriety test and, in most cases, makes an arrest.

Nevada’s DUI laws also allow the arrest of someone who seems to have had too much to drink and has physical control of a vehicle, regardless of whether the individual was observed driving. Nevada law allows the arrest of someone who has driven or attempts to drive, or who indicates they have driven or will drive while allegedly drunk or on intoxicating drugs.

In a defining Nevada case, an individual whose blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) was later determined to be more than the legal limit was found asleep in the driver’s seat of a car with its engine running. The car was on private property, but with easy access to a public highway. When the individual was awakened by a police officer, the defendant attempted to restart the car and drive off. Though police did not wait for him to drive the car, the defendant was found to have been in physical control of the vehicle and guilty of DUI.

Another scenario where a DUI arrest might result is a pedestrian observed to be talking loudly and having trouble walking, then clumsily unlocking and climbing into a car. A police officer would have probable cause to stop and charge the individual with DUI based on their physical control of a car.

In Nevada, You Can Sleep It Off in Your Car

After Nevada adopted laws with the “actual physical control” language in 1983, courts ruled that the phrase applied to a person who had “directing influence, domination or regulation of (a) vehicle” — meaning whether the car was driven was truly that person’s decision. Further, Nevada courts weighing an individual’s innocence or guilt were required to consider:

  1. Where and in what position the defendant was found in the vehicle
  2. Whether the vehicle’s engine was running
  3. Whether the defendant was awake or asleep
  4. Whether the vehicle’s lights were on if the defendant was apprehended at night
  5. Location of the vehicle’s keys
  6. Whether the defendant was trying to move or had moved the vehicle
  7. Whether the defendant’s vehicle was located on public or private property, and
  8. Whether the defendant must have driven to the location where apprehended.

Eventually, Nevada said by law that a person could legally “sleep it off” in their car. In 2015, the state adopted NRS 484C.109, which says:

… a person shall be deemed not to be in actual physical control of a vehicle if:

  • The person is asleep inside the vehicle
  • The person is not in the driver’s seat of the vehicle
  • The engine of the vehicle is not running
  • The vehicle is lawfully parked, and
  • Under the facts presented, it is evident that the person could not have driven the vehicle to the location while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a controlled substance or a prohibited substance.

But even if, after drinking, you are sleeping in the back seat of your legally parked and not running car, you can be arrested for DUI.

You could be arrested if you admit or imply that you drove after drinking, or if police are responding to complaints about you or a car like yours. For example, if your car is parked badly and/or there are skid marks indicating you stopped abruptly when you parked, police may have probable cause to suspect you drove to that spot while under the influence. If you are parked far enough from any drinking establishment to make the walk to your parked car unreasonable, police could suspect you drove there.

Contact a Las Vegas DUI Attorney

No matter the circumstances, if you are questioned about a DUI in Las Vegas, you need to protect your rights and ability to defend yourself against any charges by remaining silent but cooperating with police. If charged with DUI, you should contact an experienced Las Vegas attorney as soon as you can.

The Las Vegas DUI lawyers at Adras & Altig have more than 10 years of experience successfully defending Nevada residents and out-of-state visitors who faced charges of driving under the influence. If you have been arrested for DUI in Las Vegas, you have a right to a strong legal defense to help you avoid jail, fines, loss of your driving privileges and other penalties. Contact Adras & Altig to make sure you have it.

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