• Justin Sparks

What Is the Difference Between DUI and Physical Control? A Guide for All Drivers Facing Intoxication

There is a general assumption that taking some time to sober up in your car is a good way to avoid a DUI charge. While it is true that the driver will not be charged with DUI, a lot of people are shocked to discover that there are other serious charges they will have to face.


Not many drivers are aware of the term “Physical Control,” or what it means regarding drunken driving charges. This article will compare DUI and physical control to help drivers make the right choice before getting behind the wheel after some heavy drinking.


What Does Physical Control Mean?

What Does Physical Control Mean?


Physical control charges can be brought against anyone who is deemed to have been under the influence while inside a vehicle with the possibility of being able to drive at any point.


In simpler terms, just sitting behind the wheel of a car with access to the keys means a driver can be charged. To make matters worse, in most states, such a charge carries very stiff penalties almost similar to DUI charges.


What if the Car Never Moved?


When it comes to a physical control charge, the question is not whether the car was moving but rather whether the driver was in a position to have control of the vehicle while intoxicated.


This means it is very important for a defense attorney to get specific information from their client about minor details, such as:


  • Whether they were sitting behind the wheel or in the back seat or passenger seat

  • Who had control of the car keys

  • Was there another driver around who was in control of the vehicle


Are the Blood Alcohol Content Thresholds the Same for Both?


A breathalyzer test is usually the most common means for a law enforcement officer to determine whether a person was under the influence or not. Regarding a physical control and DUI charge, thresholds are as follows:


  • A DUI charge requires a blood alcohol content (BAC) of not more than 0.08%

  • If the THC concentration is 5.00 or higher for a DUI charge

  • A BAC of 0.08% or THC concentration of 5.00 or higher within two hours of being in control of a car for a physical control charge



Penalties for DUI vs. Physical Control


While the actual charge may be different, the associated penalties for physical control are the same as those for a DUI charge. The punishments differ from state to state, but in most cases, they may include any of the following:


  • Immediate suspension of a driver’s license

  • Mandatory jail sentence

  • An ignition or interlock device to be installed

  • Fines of up to $5,000 depending on whether it is a first, second, or third offense


One important thing to note is that these penalties will usually increase drastically for drivers who have a BAC test result of more than 0.15% and in cases where a minor was in the car at the time of the arrest.


How a Lawyer Can Help


It is one thing knowing the difference between a DUI and physical control, but it is quite another to be able to use that information in court. The best thing to do when being charged with either of these offenses is to call the best DUI attorney in Fort Worth TX immediately for help with the following:


  • Determine the Evidence


With a physical control charge, establishing that the driver had the intention to drive while under the influence is very important. A good lawyer will look at all the evidence and determine whether the prosecution has a solid case or whether you are able to get an ARD.


  • Fight the Case


When it comes to fighting the charges in open court, having a lawyer may be the difference between walking away free and having to go through life with a DUI charge.


  • Reduce the Sentence


The punishment for either a DUI or physical control charge can be very severe, which is why it is important to try by all means to highlight any mitigating factors that may encourage the court to be lenient.


At Sparks Law Firm, drivers facing a physical control or DUI charge will have some of the best attorneys in Texas representing them. Contact us at (817) 381-7846.