Physical Control of a Motor Vehicle


Physical Control of a Motor Vehicle while Intoxicated is a criminal offense that carries the same penalties as Driving Under the Influence. RCW 46.51.504 defines the crime as:

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

The crime of Physical Control is meant to punish those who are intoxicated and in a position to drive a vehicle, but have not actually driven or driving cannot be proven.  Common situations are someone in a parking lot or the side of the road sitting in the driver’s seat or asleep at the wheel with the engine running.  Police have charged Physical Control in situations where the engine is not even turned on, but that the intoxicated person was in the driver’s seat.  The fact that the car was inoperable is not a defense to the charge.

The punishment for Physical Control is identical to DUI in Washington, which comes with mandatory minimum jail time, license suspension and ignition interlock.

Safely Off the Roadway

There is a defense to the charge that allows one to be in Physical Control while intoxicated, so long as the person is safely off the roadway.  The purpose behind the defense is that the law wants to encourage drivers who are intoxicated to pull over and get off the road.  This defense is tricky and must be proven by preponderance of evidence.

Kris Carrasco is an experienced DUI and Physical Control attorney and can provide a strong defense against these charges.