Dominion And Control And How It Affects A DUI Charge

If you are caught driving while your blood alcohol level is 0.08 or higher, you are under the influence of illegal substances, or your driving is impaired because of medications, you can be charged with driving under the influence. But what happens if you are simply sleeping in a car after a night of heavy drinking or you pull into a rest stop to take pills and fall asleep? Can you still be charged with a DUI? That is where the term dominion and control comes into play. Here are a few questions you may have about this term and the answers.

What Does the Term Dominion and Control Mean?

Dominion and control means that you have control of the vehicle. When it comes to DUI charges, in some states you must actually have been driving the vehicle in order to be charged with driving under the influence. The officer must have actually caught you driving the car, or there must be evidence to prove you were driving the car. For example, if an officer catches you passed out at an accident scene behind the wheel, then they may not have witnessed you driving.  But, if you are drunk and behind the wheel at a crash scene, there is evidence you were driving and caused the accident. Other states have dominion and control laws, meaning that you simply need to be in the vehicle in order to be charged with a DUI. It is important to know what type of state you reside in, as you can find yourself facing a DUI even when you aren't actually driving the vehicle. It is also important to note that in dominion and control states, you can be charged with a DUI even if you go to sleep it off in the backseat of the car. If you have possession of the car and can control it, you can be charged.

Can You Be Charged With Any Crime For Sleeping it Off in Your Car if You Don't Live in a Dominion and Control State?

If you do not live in a dominion and control state, you may think that you can fall asleep in your car if you are too drunk to drive home. However, it is important to note that if an officer were to approach you, you could still be ticketed with being drunk in public. While a public intoxication ticket is less severe than being charged with a DUI, it is still better to simply ask a friend to drive you home or take a taxi and not run the risk of being ticketed or cited for any offenses.

What States Are Dominion and Control States?

Some states have clear laws that indicate they are dominion and control states. For example, Texas clearly states that a drunk or intoxicated person merely needs dominion and control over a vehicle to be charged with driving under the influence. Other states are not as clear. In California, a driver, defined as a person who is driving or has physical control of the vehicle, may be charged with a DUI. This means that a person who is not actually driving, but has physical control over the vehicle, may be charged. However, the CA supreme court issued a ruling that they interpret the law as meaning a person who moves the vehicle, and as such, someone sleeping in a car cannot be charged. Many other states also find themselves in a gray area where the law can be interpreted to either way. As such, if you are charged with a DUI when you were not actually driving a car, you should consult with a DUI attorney. They can let you know what the laws are for your state, and help you fight the charges if the law is murky. Visit a site like for more information. 

If you are too drunk to drive home, you may think that sleeping it off in your car is a great way to sober up. Unfortunately, if you live in a state with dominion and control laws, you could be charged with a DUI for simply being in the car. If you find yourself in this position, consult with a DUI attorney.