May 21

Can You Get a DUI Without Driving? Understanding the Law


Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) is one of the most common criminal offenses in Canada. Being caught operating a motorized vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over .08 (80mg of alcohol per 100 mL of blood) is considered a criminal offense and you will face severe penalties that can come with lifelong consequences. Even if your BAC is under .08, you can still be charged with driving impaired. But can you get a DUI without driving?  

Yes, there are circumstances where you can be charged with a DUI even when you’re not driving a vehicle. It’s important to understand the law in these situations to avoid charges. *Please note that this blog is not a substitute for legal advice, nor does it establish a client-solicitor relationship. If you are currently facing charges and are in need of legal advice and guidance, please contact our office at Brett Gladstone Law Corp.

It can come as a surprise to most people that you can be charged with impaired driving even when your vehicle is not moving. To be charged with a DUI when you’re not currently driving, it must appear as though you had already been or had the intent to drive your vehicle while impaired. Here are a few examples:

  • You are standing outside your vehicle or are currently in the driver’s seat, with your keys in your hand or in the ignition, and it appears as though you are about to drive away while intoxicated. “Care and control” is the legal term for a situation when a person is sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle and has access to the keys. A person with care and control of a vehicle risks setting the vehicle in motion, either intentionally or unintentionally.  
  • You fall asleep behind the wheel of your vehicle while intoxicated. The car keys might be in your possession or in the ignition. This might appear as though you were intending to drive but instead fell asleep or were currently driving and decided to pull over and fell asleep. Many people feel they are doing the right thing by “sleeping it off” in their car, only to be charged with a DUI.
  • Of course, the only sure way to avoid a DUI is never to drink and drive. But how can you avoid a DUI charge if you aren’t driving your vehicle? If you’ve been drinking and are over the legal drinking limit, it’s important to avoid a circumstance where you may show intent to drive.  
  • Never get behind the wheel of a vehicle with the keys in your possession or in the ignition while intoxicated, even if you don’t plan on starting the vehicle or driving. If you need to retrieve an item from your car, it’s best to unlock your door from a safe distance and leave your keys behind. 
  •  Avoid sleeping in your vehicle while intoxicated. If you must sleep in your vehicle, do so in the backseat and keep the keys out of your possession and out of the ignition, such as in the glove box.

Receiving a DUI charge is a stressful experience. You might be facing fines, a suspension of your license, and even a criminal record. The laws surrounding DUI without driving can be frustrating, and each case is unique. If you’ve been charged with DUI while not driving, a good, experienced lawyer can help you fight these charges. Please contact our office at Brett Gladstone Law Corp. for a consultation.


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