Getting Charged with DWI When You’re Not Driving

While people might think that they must be driving in order to get charged with a DWI, the law allows people to be charged with the offense even when they are not actually driving their vehicles. It is possible for a person to get charged with a DWI when his or her car is stopped and not running in certain cases. A Minneapolis DWI lawyer sometimes has cases in which his or her client was not driving at the time of the offense but had actual physical control of the car.

Actual Physical Control in Minnesota

According to the law in Minnesota, people may be charged with DWIs if they are operating, driving, or have physical control of the vehicle while they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs that affect their ability to drive and their nervous systems. Prior to 2010, the lower courts in Minnesota had treated physical control under the statute as meaning situations when there was evidence that the car had recently been driven. In 2010, the Minnesota Supreme Court weighed in, changing how courts define physical control of a vehicle.

State v. Fleck and physical control

State v. Fleck dealt with a case in which a man who was sleeping in his driver’s seat with the car door ajar prompted a concerned neighbor to call 911 and to ask that officers check on the man to make certain that he was okay. The lights of the car were not on and the engine was not warm. While the police didn’t think the car had been on, the man’s car keys were inside of the vehicle’s console. After he was convicted of DWI, the man appealed. The Minnesota Court of Appeals overturned the man’s conviction.

The Minnesota Supreme Court reinstated the conviction. It ruled that if there is evidence that a person can start his or her vehicle and drive it, it is enough for that person to be convicted of DWI. The key factors that juries consider when determining whether or not a person had control of the vehicle include where a person’s keys are located and where the person is sitting. A Minneapolis DWI lawyer may analyze whether his or her client had actual physical control of a vehicle at the time of the DWI charge.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

One of the questions people facing a criminal charge ask is: How long does a criminal case take? The timeline of your criminal case in Minnesota will depend on the nature and severity of the alleged crime, the speed of the criminal justice system, the duration of the trial, and whether an appeal will be necessary. Delays at any stage of the criminal justice process may impact how long your criminal case will last. Generally, however, misdemeanor cases may resolve within weeks or months, while felony cases may linger in courts for up to a year.
People accused, arrested, or charged with a crime often ask, “How much does a criminal defense lawyer cost in Minneapolis, MN?” It is difficult to accurately determine how much a criminal defense lawyer will cost. The reason is that numerous factors impact the cost of legal representation in criminal matters. These factors include the type and severity of criminal charges, the lawyer’s experience and reputation, required time and effort, and geographical location.
Social media can have legal implications, particularly when it comes to criminal cases. Since its advent, social media has become a powerful tool for communication and self-expression. As of 2023, an estimated 4.9 billion people worldwide use social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to share thoughts, experiences, and moments from their lives. However, in this digital age, social media activity can be used as evidence in criminal cases in Minneapolis and elsewhere.