What is the Definition of “Driving” under Illinois DUI Law?

To be convicted of DUI, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were 1) driving while 2) under the influence.  But it may surprise you to know that sleeping in your car can fall under the definition of “driving.”

Under Illinois law, you may not drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  See: 625 ILCS 5/11-501.

Illinois courts have found actual physical control to include the following:

  1. You are behind the steering wheel in the driver’s seat with the ignition key and physically capable of starting the engine and moving the vehicle. People v. Heimann, 142 Ill. App. 3d 197, 491 N.E.2d 872 (3rd Dist. 1986)
  2. You were in the back seat. People v. Davis, 205 Ill. App. 3d 431, 562 N.E.2d 1152 (1st Dist. 1990).
  3. The car could be operated by coasting even though the  front end and radiator were visibly damaged, but  defendant could still move the car, which was on a downhill incline. People v. Heimann, 142 Ill. App. 3d 197, 491 N.E.2d 872 (3rd Dist. 1986).
  4. The evidence showed that damage to the car matched damage to a car parked at the complainant’s home, defendant was the car’s owner, and police found defendant next to the vehicle, which was parked in the driveway of his house. People v. Slinkard, 362 Ill. App. 3d 855, 841 N.E.2d 1 (2nd Dist. 2006).
  5. Defendant was lying on the seat of the truck with the keys  on the floor under the steering column. People v. Long, 351 Ill. App. 3d 821, 815 N.E.2d 72 (2nd Dist. 2004).
  6. Defendant’s car was stuck in a ditch and he could not get it out. People v. Vallero, 134 Ill. App. 3d 919, 481 N.E.2d 297 (3rd Dist. 1985).

If you are charged with DUI, you should consult an experienced DUI attorney immediately.  Determining if you were “driving” can be very fact specific and depend on the viewpoint of your judge.  An attorney who is familiar with the courthouse may be able to present the facts of your particular case in their most favorable light to your particular judge.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

About mdkeenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 17 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU and the Illinois State Bar Association. I serve as a volunteer for First Defense Legal Aid. Se habla espanol.
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