In Washington State, the crime of Physical Control has essentially the same consequences as a DUI conviction. People often wonder what Physical Control is. People face Physical Control charges rather than DUI charges typically when an officer sees a person stopped, rather than actively driving. It has to do with a persons ability to exert control over their vehicle. Often cases can go either way when reviewed by the Prosecutor.
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The Elements Are Not Defined
The Statute (RCW 46.61.504) does not exactly define the elements of Physical Control. Courts have been known to use the definition that the defendant “is in a position to physically regulate and determine movement of the vehicle.” The most common scenario is when a person decides to stop driving and either wait out their impairment or sleep it off. People will pull over to the side of the road or pull into a parking lot. Often, people go to sleep. Following an arrest based on these facts, Courts determine that people sleeping in their cars with the engine running are in physical control of the vehicle.
Affirmative Defense of “Safely Off The Roadway”
There is a Statutory Defense to Physical Control. If a defendant can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that they moved the vehicle safely off the roadway, that is a complete defense to the charge. The definition begs the question – what constitutes “safely off the roadway”? The definition is left to the trier of fact, meaning the jury. The legal community (meaning prosecutors and defense) typically believes that a safely off the roadway defense has merit when the defendant has moved the vehicle off of the roadway and it presents no present danger to the community. The defense can even be present when the engine is running. This is a broad idea of the defense and most fact patterns are different, but the defense is often available if the defense attorney knows what to look for. It can mean the difference between a conviction and a not guilty verdict.
Get The Best Possible Defense For Your Physical Control Case
At Witt Law Group, we have been practicing DUI and Physical Control defense for 15 years. We have handled hundreds, if not thousands, of these cases. We provide defense in Kitsap and Pierce Counties. We have offices in Gig Harbor, Bremerton and Poulsbo.
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Whether you choose to handle your case alone or you hire the Witt Law Group, get educated and prepared. There are so many factors that occur in the early part of your case that can dictate whether you will end up with a fair recovery. Remember that a consultation is free and worth your time. You will likely discover that the earlier you get an attorney involved in the process, the easier the transition back to normal life. Your attorney will take over all contact with the insurance adjuster and keep track of your treatment providers and bills. Your job is to heal. Our job is to present your injuries and damages to the insurance companies and argue for a fair settlement that accurately reflects the pain and damages you’ve suffered.