Actual Physical Control

Actual Physical Control Tempe


Each state has its' own definition of Actual Physical Control. In a DUI setting and especially in Arizona, this term is misunderstood. Our office was responsible for winning the case some years ago which at least began to define this ethereal term.

What is Actual Physical Control?

In a DUI case, the cop must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an accused drunk driver was "driving" or in "actual physical control" of the vehicle.

APC comes in to play typically where the accused is found asleep in the vehicle. Obviously, not driving, the issue is what was the intent- to drive or stop. One is permitted to pull completely off the roadway (the further the better) and cease control of the vehicle without fear of police intervention. As one drives, after drinking, the effects of alcohol can become more intense. Instead of trying to make it home, and perhaps hurt someone, the right thing is to pull over and either sleep it off or call for assistance and/or a ride.

One is not in APC simply because the key is in the ignition, nor the engine running. A recent Appeals Court decision went even further and held that Actual physical control does not mean "potential" control. The test is the totality of the circumstances, in determining the accused driver's intent. We are often very successful at arguing this concept and achieving "not guilty" verdicts.