In today’s world, we witness various kinds of charges imposed on individuals. One such charge is a physical control charge which is quite common these days. In simple terms, when an individual is charged with physical control, it means that the individual was in actual control of a vehicle while being impaired by drugs or alcohol. This could be problematic as it may result in severe consequences.
The situation can prove to be stressful for the accused person and his/her loved ones since the legal proceedings associated with a physical control charge can get complicated quickly. It’s crucial to have knowledge about what you’re charged with and how best to handle it.
This blog aims to provide insight into different aspects related to physical control charges, including its definition, types, penalties, rehabilitation programs available, and other critical information surrounding this offense. By gaining knowledge about physical control charges, one can make informed decisions and take necessary actions to mitigate their potential impact on oneself and others involved. Read ahead to learn more about this frequently encountered criminal offense!
Understanding the Basics of Physical Control Charges
What is Physical Control?
Physical control can be defined as being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This means that even if you are not driving your car, but are simply sitting behind the wheel with the engine running and have the ability to operate it, you could be charged for physical control.
In many states, being in physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated is considered just as severe as driving under the influence (DUI) because it poses similar risks to public safety. It’s important to note that physical control charges can also apply to cases where someone is sleeping or passed out in their car while impaired.
How is Physical Control Different from DUI?
The key difference between physical control and DUI is whether the person was actually driving the vehicle. While DUI applies when an individual is operating a moving vehicle while impaired, physical control extends to situations where someone is in or around a motor vehicle and can drive at any time but has decided not to.
A clear example of this is when someone chooses to get into their car after having too much to drink, then decides to sleep off the effects instead of getting on the road. If they’re caught by law enforcement before leaving, they can still face physical control charges. In comparison, a DUI charge would result if they were found to be actively driving under the influence.
What are the Penalties for Physical Control Charges?
Penalties for physical control charges differ depending on state laws, but they can be very similar to those imposed on DUI offenders. In general, however, these penalties tend to be less severe than DUI consequences since there isn’t usually evidence of unsafe driving involved.
Some possible penalties for physical control charges include fines, community service, license suspension, and even mandatory time in jail. As with DUI cases, it’s critical to obtain legal support from a qualified attorney if facing these types of charges.
“Physical control laws are designed to help keep drunk drivers off the roads by punishing them before they actually begin driving.” -John Tumelty, Atlantic City-based defense attorney
If you’re facing physical control charges, it’s important to understand what this type of offense entails, how it differs from DUI, and what kinds of consequences could arise. With an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side, you may be able to build a strong case for mitigating or potentially eliminating these charges altogether.
The Consequences of a Physical Control Conviction
Physical control is the act of being in physical possession of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, alcohol or any other substance that impairs driving ability. Although it may not necessarily involve driving, it is still considered a serious offense and comes with severe consequences. Here are some of the repercussions that come with a physical control conviction:
Impact on Driving Privileges
A physical control conviction will likely result in suspension of your driver’s license. Depending on the severity of the incident, the revocation period can last anywhere between several months to a few years. After completing the suspension, you may also be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle before reinstating your driving privileges. An IID measures your blood alcohol content (BAC) levels and prevents the car from starting if they exceed a particular limit.
The permanent loss of your driving privileges is also a possibility if your case involves multiple convictions or if there was an accident resulting in severe injury or death. Losing your license can have far-reaching implications on your life, especially if you rely on driving for various aspects such as work or daily commute.
Effects on Employment and Career
Aside from losing your driving privileges, obtaining a physical control conviction can lead to significant negative effects on your employment particularly if you have a job where driving is essential or mandated by law. Such jobs include commercial driving, delivery services or any role requiring frequent travel.
In addition, getting convicted can significantly affect your employability in certain industries, even those that do not require driving. Employers often conduct background checks on their prospective employees and having a criminal record may give them pause when considering you for a position.
“A drink cheapens the reputation faster than a years’ hard work.” – Sarah Dunant
If you’re already employed at the time of your conviction, your employer may choose to terminate your employment. Some employers have strict policies against criminal convictions, and they use them as grounds for dismissal.
Physical control charge entails more severe consequences than people often realize. The best way to avoid these repercussions is by not driving after consuming substances that cause impairment. If caught up in an instance where it’s possible to be convicted of a physical control charge despite following this advice, legal assistance is recommended. An experienced attorney can help you fight your case or negotiate a favorable plea agreement that minimizes the sentence’s negative impacts on your life.
Common Defenses for Physical Control Charges
A physical control charge refers to an offense in which a person is arrested for being in “physical control” of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In other words, if you are sitting in your car, with the ignition running and keys in the ignition, and found to be intoxicated, police can arrest you on charges of physical control.
Proving Lack of Physical Control
The key element to a physical control charge is proving that you were indeed in physical control at the time of arrest. If you weren’t, even if you were drinking or high, then you could argue against such charges. For example, if someone were found sleeping it off behind the wheel but had no intention of driving, they would not be guilty of physical control since they weren’t controlling the vehicle by any means.
The legal definition of physical control from state to state may differ, so consult a DUI attorney who’s familiar with your local laws to show whether there was actual physical control or lack thereof present during the incident.
Challenging Field Sobriety Tests
If you got pulled over and failed one or more field sobriety tests (FST), do know that these tests also fallible and are often challenged as evidence during trials. FSTs are used by law enforcement to gauge how impaired a person is based on how well they perform certain tasks, including walking heel-to-toe in a straight line or standing on one leg for an extended period. Factors like age, weight, fatigue, pre-existing medical conditions or nervousness can negatively affect test results refuting blood-alcohol content levels.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), FSTs are only correct around 70% of the time, which disregards those who are sober but nervous and inaccurate readings from skewed test conditions.
Disputing Blood Alcohol Content Results
Prosecutors cite blood alcohol content (BAC) results as an essential evidence piece in driving under the influence cases. However, if you believe that law enforcement or forensic experts mishandled your blood sample or breathalyzer test, you can dispute BAC results.
Blood samples require calm protocols for testing accuracy analysis, handling, labeling and storage; otherwise a result could be considered invalid as procedures were not followed precisely. Breath analyzer machines also must go through routine maintenance regularly to assure precise and accurate testing is occurring. Therefore, any deviations could lead to a negligible statement of sobriety levels. In some states, drivers have the right to choose an independent technician or medical expert to conduct a separate blood test independent of the prosecution’s own. This way, individuals ensure that their legal rights are being protected and mistakes haven’t been made.
Questioning Police Officer Testimony
In these sorts of incidents, it’s common for police officers on duty to testify against defendants during trials. There exist instances where cops have either violated established policies or protocols when stopping, arresting or questioning someone accused of physical control offenses that only become evident after lawyers present testimonies questions afterwards tirelessly. Obtaining video footage, dispatch recordings or gathering witnesses’ statements supports challenges made future testimony.
“The police aren’t always truthful, reliable people to whom we should just inherently defer,” said Andrew Liptak, managing attorney at DUI Heroes law firm. “Where there are discrepancies between what they tell us happened and other evidence-say, a client’s testimony-then attorneys will question whether or not the police did something properly.”
If the truth is proven questionable, an attorney can take serious steps disputing the claims or discrediting the officer. This defense could prove pivotal in turning around a case, making sure you don’t end up with an unfair conviction on your record.
How to Handle a Physical Control Charge Arrest
Remain Calm and Compliant
If you are facing arrest for a physical control charge, it is essential to remain calm and compliant with law enforcement officers. While it may be tempting to resist or become defensive, doing so can lead to additional charges and jeopardize your legal defense.
Remember to keep your hands visible at all times and avoid any sudden movements that could be misconstrued as aggressive behavior. Cooperate with officers and comply with their instructions, even if you believe they are unwarranted or unjustified.
Refrain from Incriminating Statements
One of the most critical aspects of handling a physical control charge arrest is to refrain from making incriminating statements. Anything you say can be used against you in court, so it’s best to remain silent and request a lawyer as soon as possible.
Avoid trying to explain your actions or providing information about whether you had been drinking prior to the arrest. Instead, politely inform the officers that you would like to exercise your right to remain silent until you have had a chance to speak with an attorney.
Request a Lawyer
As soon as you enter police custody, it is imperative to request a lawyer. You have the right to legal representation during questioning and throughout the legal proceedings following your physical control charge arrest.
Your attorney can help protect your rights, negotiate with prosecutors, and build a strong defense strategy to minimize the charges you face or secure a not guilty verdict. Never waive your right to an attorney or attempt to represent yourself in court without consulting a legal professional first.
Understand Your Rights and Options
In addition to requesting a lawyer, it’s also essential to understand your rights and options when facing a physical control charge arrest. For example, you have the right to refuse chemical tests such as breathalyzers or blood draws that can be used as evidence against you in court.
Your attorney can help you weigh the pros and cons of different legal strategies, such as pleading guilty, negotiating for reduced charges, or going to trial. Being informed about your legal options is crucial for making the most strategic decisions during this challenging time.
“It does not require many words to speak the truth.”- Chief Joseph
Dealing with a physical control charge arrest can be stressful and overwhelming, but remaining calm, refraining from incriminating statements, requesting a lawyer, and understanding your rights are critical steps for building a solid defense strategy in court. Be sure to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the complex legal processes and help protect your constitutional rights. With the right support system, you can navigate this challenging experience while minimizing the potential negative consequences for your future.
Getting Legal Help for Your Physical Control Charge Case
A physical control charge is a serious legal matter that can have significant implications on your life. If you are facing such charges, it’s important to seek the right legal help as soon as possible. Here are some essential things you should know about getting the right legal help in your physical control charge case.
Work with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
The first and most crucial step in fighting a physical control charge is finding a reliable criminal defense attorney who has experience handling cases similar to yours. A good lawyer will review your case and provide you with legal advice. They may also suggest various legal defenses that can be used to challenge these charges in court.
When looking for a criminal defense attorney, ask questions such as how long they’ve been practicing law, if they have handled similar cases to yours before, and what their success rate is in defending clients charged with crimes like a physical control charge. Remember to choose someone with whom you feel comfortable working closely with throughout the legal process and who understands your unique circumstances.
Explore Available Legal Options and Defenses
Your criminal defense attorney will help you explore available legal options and defenses that can reduce or dismiss charges brought against you. For instance, one of the commonly used defenses in physical control cases is challenging whether there was “actual physical control” over the vehicle when stopped by authorities. Other potential defenses may include questioning the legality of the traffic stop, breathalyzer test results, or police officer behavior.
It’s important to discuss each option with your attorney and decide which may be the best course of action for your specific situation. In some instances, plea bargaining may yield more favorable results than going to trial, while other situations require a more aggressive approach.
Understand the Legal Process and Timeline
It’s crucial to understand the legal process and timeline of your case so that you can make informed decisions about your defense. Your criminal defense attorney will provide guidance on each step, clarify each procedure, and explain how different options may affect the outcome.
The legal process in physical control charge cases typically involves initial charges immediately following an arrest, followed by a hearing with the court to determine if there is probable cause for further action. If this is established, a criminal complaint is issued, which provides details of the alleged crime and formalizes the charges against the defendant. Following the issuance of complaints comes arraignment or plea negotiations, pretrial preparation, and hearings before going to trial, where the prosecution must prove their allegations beyond reasonable doubt to secure convictions.
Prepare for Court Proceedings and Hearings
Finally, preparing for court proceedings and hearings ahead of time is essential to building a strong defense for your case. This includes gathering evidence to support your claim, marshaling resources to present arguments in front of judges and juries earnestly, developing strategies, crafting persuasive statements and cross-examination questions, and putting in place any other measures necessary to achieve favorable results.
Preparing adequately can be stressful and time-consuming, but it’s crucial to making your best possible defense. Trusting your lawyer and working closely with them throughout your case can ensure that you gather all the necessary information, develop convincing arguments, and build a sound strategy to beat charges brought upon you.
“You have the right to remain silent; everything you do say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you.” –Miranda Warning
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the definition of a physical control charge?
A physical control charge is when a person is in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, even if the vehicle is not being driven. This can include sitting in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition or having the ability to start the vehicle.
What are the consequences of a physical control charge?
The consequences of a physical control charge can include fines, license suspension, and even jail time. Additionally, a physical control charge can negatively impact a person’s employment and future opportunities, as it will show up on their criminal record.
What are the elements that must be proven for a physical control charge?
To be convicted of a physical control charge, the prosecution must prove that the person was in physical control of the vehicle, that they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and that they posed a danger to themselves or others while in physical control.
What is the difference between a physical control charge and a DUI charge?
The main difference between a physical control charge and a DUI charge is that a DUI charge requires the person to actually be driving the vehicle while under the influence, while a physical control charge only requires them to be in physical control of the vehicle.
What are some common defenses for a physical control charge?
Common defenses for a physical control charge can include challenging the evidence of the person being under the influence, proving that they were not in physical control of the vehicle, or arguing that they did not pose a danger to themselves or others while in physical control.
What should you do if you are facing a physical control charge?
If you are facing a physical control charge, it is important to seek the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. They can help you understand your rights, the potential consequences, and the best course of action to take to defend yourself against the charge.