What is a Physical Control charge?
RCW 46.61.504(1) states “A person is guilty of being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug if the person has actual physical control of a vehicle within this state: (a) And the person has, within two hours after being in actual physical control of the vehicle, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher as shown by analysis of the person’s breath or blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or (b) The person has, within two hours after being in actual physical control of a vehicle, a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher as shown by analysis of the person’s blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or (c) While the person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor or any drug; or (d) While the person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor and any drug.”
What happens after a Physical Control arrest?
An individual arrested for Physical Control faces two separate legal actions. The first legal action will be with the department of licensing where the accused will face a possible drivers license suspension. The second legal action will be with the Court system. It is important to contact an experienced Physical Control Attorney who is familiar with this type of offense. Connect with our Seattle DUI Lawyer today.
What does Physical Control actually mean?
Unfortunately, there is no clear definition of what actual physical control means. However, it is often determined on a case by case basis and there are several factors considered. Whether the vehicle was running is probably the most significant factor considered. A second consideration is where was the vehicle parked. Was it in the middle of the roadway or off of the roadway. Lastly, the driver’s position inside the vehicle is often considered. Did they have an ability to readily move the vehicle, meaning the keys were within reach?
Can I use the Safely off the Roadway Defense
RCW 46.61.504(2) states “No person may be convicted under this section if, prior to being pursued by a law enforcement officer, the person has moved the vehicle safely off the roadway.”
The defense of Safely off the Roadway can be asserted in a Physical Control case when the driver prior to being pursued by law enforcement pulled their vehicle off the roadway and parked. Typically this occurs when an individual recognizes they have consumed too much alcohol and feel it is unsafe to continue driving and thus pull over and park to sober up.
However, there are many ambiguous definitions of what off the roadway constitutes. Seattle DUI & Physical Control Lawyer Matthew Leyba has litigated this type of offense many times and at the time of writing this page has never lost a safely off the roadway defense at a jury trial.
What does Roadway mean in Physical Control?
“Roadway” means that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the sidewalk or shoulder even though such sidewalk or shoulder is used by persons riding bicycles. In the event a highway includes two or more separated roadways, the term “roadway” shall refer to any such roadway separately but shall not refer to all such roadways collectively.
Additionally the “main-traveled portion of the road” needs to be considered. This means the portion of the road designed for the through movement of vehicles, exclusive of auxiliary lanes. An auxiliary lane is the portion of the road adjoining the main traveled portion of the road, which is used or can be used for the parking of vehicles.
What are the penalties for a Physical Control?
The penalties for a physical control are the same for a DUI case. Meaning it carries the same minimum mandatory jail sentence, fine, ignition interlock requirement, drivers license suspension and probation periods.
Do you need a Physical Control Attorney?
In my opinion, absolutely you need an experienced Attorney to defend you and help navigate you through these complex waters. Due to the severity of this type of offense, including the penalties, and ambiguous, confusing area of the law this type of charge should not be taken lightly. Seattle DUI Attorney Matthew Leyba has unparalleled success in defending these types of charges, including never losing a safely off the roadway defense at trial. If you have any questions feel free to contact our office anytime to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.