DUI doesn’t always mean “driving” under the influence.
“You can still get a DUI in a parked car in a parking lot,” said El Paso Deputy District Attorney Andrew Vaughan.
We went to Vaughan to clear up the DUI law for parked cars.
“The law says you have to be in actual, physical control of the vehicle. Actual physical control doesn’t mean that the vehicle is moving,” Vaughan said.
Viewers expressed concern that Pueblo County Commissioner Buffie McFadyen may have received special treatment from a Pueblo County Deputy while he was investigating a suspicious vehicle last January.
The deputy determined both were drunk, but since the car was parked and the keys weren’t in the ignition, McFadyen was able to call her husband to give herself and her passenger, Pueblo County Democratic Chairman Ron Greenwell, a ride home.
Vaughan, who didn’t comment on this incident, says officers have to take several circumstances into account to determine if an arrest should be made for DUI.
“Were the keys in the ignition? Was the car running? Were you parked on a slope where if the emergency brake comes loose, would you coast down the hill? Those are just a few of the factors to consider,” Vaughan said.
Like most laws, this one has plenty of grey areas and discretion by law enforcement. Ultimately it would be up to a jury to determine if the vehicle was operable.
“My recommendation to people who want to sober up in the car is to stay as far away from the car as possible. The further away from the ignition the keys are from the ignition the better,” Vaughan said.