• Justin Sparks

Is APC the Same As DUI?

Picture this, it’s a Friday night, and a person is out with a couple of friends having a few drinks. Midnight comes around, and it is time for them to all go home. Being the responsible motorists that they are, they decide to sleep off the shots of tequila before driving home.


However, with so many misconceptions that currently surround drunk driving, it can be hard to know what to do. A common misconception among drivers in Texas is that in order for them to sleep off the alcohol in their car, their keys need to be outside the car, or else they will be considered “in control” of their vehicle.


What Is Actual Physical Control (APC)?

What Is Actual Physical Control (APC)?


While everybody knows that driving while intoxicated could land them a DUI charge, or even an extreme DUI charge. What some don’t know is that motorists can still face charges, even without getting behind the wheel, therefore, they can simply be arrested for being near their motor vehicle while intoxicated. This is known as Actual Physical Control, or for short, APC.


When it comes to what is needed for an APC charge, there is no concrete definition as to what elements are needed, and the courts often differ on what circumstantial evidence or facts is needed by the police in order to charge an individual for having actual physical control over their vehicle while intoxicated.


Generally, an APC doesn’t require vehicle movement, nor did the defendant need to have driven the vehicle at any point. Rather, they must be in control of the vehicle and thus capable of driving should they choose to do so.


Therefore, APC is not synonymous with driving, and why did the Texas legislature make this such a broad rule? Shouldn’t the state want to encourage drivers who are way over their legal limit to sleep off the alcohol in their cars instead of trying to drive home?


Elements of Actual Physical Control


No individual may be convicted of being in actual physical control while intoxicated from alcohol or other toxic substances until the state has been able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt each element of the crime.


The elements of the crime of actual physical control are as follows:


  1. An individual being in actual physical control of the vehicle,

  2. Either on a public road, highway, street, turnpike, place or private road or alley that offers entry into either one or multi-family dwellings,

  3. While having a breath or blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher, while under the influence of alcohol or any other toxic substance other than alcohol, or a combined influence of both alcohol and other intoxicating substances which renders a person unable to safely drive a motor vehicle, and

  4. The breath or blood alcohol test was administered within two hours after the individual was arrested.


How Does an APC Differ From a DUI?


Defendants who have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) are only punished after they have driven their vehicle or attempted to drive their motor vehicle after the consumption of alcohol or drugs.


On the other hand, an Actual Physical Control charge enables police officers to apprehend a drunk driver before they even have the chance to drive on Texas roads. Thus, when a defendant has been charged with being in actual physical control of a vehicle, it does not matter whether or not they intended to drive, it also doesn't matter if they have already driven the vehicle.


The Experienced and Knowledgeable Lawyers at Sparks Law Firm


When it comes to an APC charge, there are so many pitfalls to be on the lookout for. This is exactly why an individual should have the best DUI law firm in Fort Worth, Sparks Law Firm, by their side, as it could be the difference between their dismissal or jail time.


Anyone who has ever found themselves spending their night in jail when they initially planned to spend it sleeping in their car will need a fierce advocate who knows exactly how to work within the Texas legal system.


The legal team at Sparks Law Firm is dedicated to fierce advocacy for anyone facing APC or DUI charges across Texas. The criminally accused can contact Sparks Law Firm today for a free and confidential consultation by either completing the contact form on their website or calling (817) 381-7846.