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What you should know about the Shelter Rule Defense In Arizona

When someone is driving drunk, they are encouraged to pull over to the side of the road or pull over into a parking lot and sleep off being drunk or find other options. If someone if too drunk to drive, and they cannot find a parking lot or safe place to sleep off being drunk, then the Shelter Rule is an available alternative.

The Shelter Rule was introduced as a nice medium for someone who is too drunk to drive. It was introduced for people who realize they are too drunk to drive. They should not try to drive home faster in order to avoid running into a police officer. The Shelter Rule gave such people the ability to pull over and try to sleep it off. They can do this without being arrested or having to stand trial for a DUI. As long as they continue driving out in the open, the more chances they have to run into a police officer and get arrested for DUI.

When is the Shelter Rule Defense applicable in Phoenix, Arizona?

The Shelter Rule is meant to be a defense for being in actual physical control of a vehicle. It seems obvious that if someone is in a parking lot, or if they are at the side of the road, and are drunk, they have pulled over because they are drunk. They have relinquished control of their vehicle. It may also be obvious that they drove to that place most probably in a drunken state. However, the Shelter Rule is meant to protect those people from being alleged to being in actual physical control of the vehicle.

Factors Juries consider when weighing the Shelter Rule

The factors that are to be considered when weighing the Shelter Rule include whether the vehicle was running and whether the Ignition was in the ‘On’ position, where the Ignition key is located, as well as where and in what condition was the driver found in the vehicle. The following factors will be take into consideration:

  • Was the person asleep?
  • Were the vehicle headlights on?
  • Was the vehicle stopped?
  • Did the driver voluntarily pull off the road?
  • The time of day and weather conditions
  • Was the heat or air conditioning on?
  • Were the windows up or down?
  • Any other explanation of the circumstances as shown by the evidence

Since the weather conditions in Arizona can vary drastically during the day and night, all these factors have to be considered by the jury to come to a decision regarding whether to file charges or not.

Some issues regarding the Shelter Rule Defense

There may be special circumstances which can come up when using Shelter Rule defense. For example, if a driver is following the drunk driver and reports the issue to 911, but in the meantime, the drunk driver pulls into a parking lot and switches off their vehicle, realizing that they are too drunk to drive, there is still a witness who saw the drunk driver driving at some point. It is not clear what the Shelter Rule Defense would say in such a situation.

Best way to utilize the Shelter Rule

Usually, the best way to utilize the Shelter Rule is to get into the passenger seat or the back seat of the vehicle. Remove the keys from the vehicle. Place them not just outside the vehicle but far away from the vehicle. Even if you put them on the roof of the vehicle, that’s alright. However, the prosecutor can always allege that it was still easy access. In case you have heating or air conditioning running, then you should sit in the back seat to protect yourself, at the same time keeping safe from the harsh climate.

To talk to an attorney on how you can use the Shelter Rule Defense, call the Law Offices of Brian D. Sloan at 480-900-0384 for a Free Initial Consultation.

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Brian Douglas Sloan


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“I am one of only a handful of Phoenix DUI Lawyers that focuses solely on DUI Defense representation.”

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