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Do The Keys Have To Be In The Ignition To Get A DUI?

Iowa law defines a DUI as operating a vehicle while your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 % or higher. While this definition may seem straightforward, it is actually complicated to determine what counts as “operating” an automobile. In some cases, an intoxicated person could possibly face a DUI charge even if their keys weren’t in the ignition. Have you recently been charged with a DUI? Read this blog to learn how a Des Moines OWI Lawyer can help you today!

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This depends on the situation. It’s pretty rare for someone to get a DUI if their engine isn’t running when a police officer finds them intoxicated inside their vehicle. This is because Iowa law generally views operating a vehicle as turning the engine on, whether or not the driver begins driving. That being said, there’s still the possibility of a DUI charge if it’s proven that you intended to drive while still under the influence of alcohol. For example, let’s say you’re intoxicated and sitting behind the wheel of your car, but the engine is off and the keys are on the seat next to you. Though you’re not technically operating the car, a police officer might arrest you if they suspect you intended to drive while still drunk. So, if you’re planning on waiting in your car to sober up before driving, you should stay in the backseat, leave the engine off, and possibly sleep while you wait so the officer knows you aren’t going to drunk drive.


The good news is that if you were charged with a DUI and your keys weren’t in the ignition, you’ll likely have an easier time dismissing the charges. This is because the court will only find you guilty if it’s proven that you intended to drive your vehicle while still intoxicated. After receiving a DUI charge, you should immediately contact a criminal defense attorney to help you decrease or even dismiss the charges against you. You have a higher chance of proving that you didn’t intend to drive if the engine was off, the keys weren’t in the ignition, you weren’t in the driver’s seat, and you were asleep in your car. While it’s rare to be convicted of a DUI when you weren’t actively driving, it’s still possible.

Have you recently been charged with a DUI even though you weren’t actively driving your vehicle at the time? Are you looking for a talented criminal defense lawyer that has your best interests in mind? Look no further because Herting Law PLLC is here to fight for you! Contact our effective team today for an initial consultation.

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