Do The Keys Need To Be In The Ignition To Get A DUI?

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There have been many cases of New Jersey drivers receiving a DUI charge even if they weren’t actively driving while intoxicated. This is because of how a DUI is defined under New Jersey law. Many people wonder if they’re at risk of a charge even if their keys aren’t in the ignition at the time of intoxication. Read this blog to learn more about this issue and about how a Mercer County DUI Lawyer can help you today!


No. You can get a DUI charge in New Jersey even if you’re sitting in the car without the engine running. This is because the law defines driving under the influence as merely operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Operating a car doesn’t necessarily mean driving it, and this definition also includes an intoxicated person’s intent to drive. So, let’s say a police officer finds a drunk person behind the wheel of a parked car, and the car keys are in the seat next to them. Since the person was in the driver’s seat, the police officer could potentially arrest the person for displaying an intent to drive while intoxicated. Whether or not the person is charged with a DUI is normally on a case-to-case basis. This issue represents a gray area in the way intoxicated driving is defined in the law. That being said, you have a higher chance of fighting a DUI charge if you weren’t physically driving while intoxicated.


If you’ve been charged with a DUI because you were in your vehicle while drunk but not actually driving, you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The courts will try to prove that you intended to drive while still drunk, but an attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to prove otherwise. You are more likely to avoid charges if you weren’t in the driver’s seat, if the engine wasn’t running, and if you were asleep when the officer found you. Your attorney can help you prove that you didn’t intend to drive drunk but instead were planning to sober up to safely drive.

Have you recently been charged with a DUI even if you weren’t actively driving while drunk? Are you looking for a trusted DUI lawyer who has your best interests in mind? Look no further because the Law Office of Douglas Herring is here to fight for you! Contact us today for an initial consultation.

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