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When Is the Shelter Rule Defense Not Applicable?

Interviewer: Maybe someone’s had a couple of drinks.  They realize, they say, “Hey let me go to a restaurant and get a cup of coffee and stay there for a while.”  Can a police officer arrest them at that point?

Brian: The Shelter Rule is meant to be a defense for being in actual physical control of the vehicle.  It seems obvious that if someone is in a parking lot or if they’re on the side of the road and they’re drunk.  They have pulled over because they’re drunk.  They have relinquished control of their vehicle; it seems obvious that they drove to that position probably in a drunken state.  But the Shelter Rule is meant to protect those people from being alleged to be in actual physical control of the vehicle.

The Shelter Rule Defense Can Be Utilized to Protect a Driver that Has Voluntarily Relinquished Control of the Vehicle

If a police officer is following behind someone, even if the person on their own initiative pulls over to the side of the road or pulls over to a parking lot, officers still observed them actually driving the vehicle.  Since the law is taking into consideration someone who is driving or someone who is in actual physical control, the person is not going to be able to get around the officer having seen them drive to the place where they ultimately stopped.

An issue that has come up on occasion is where a civilian is following someone and is on the phone with 911 reporting that there is a possible drunk driver, but then this possible truck driver pulls over on their own into a parking lot and parks their vehicle and relinquishes control.  You have a civilian that may have seen them driving, but the person didn’t pull over because of that civilian.  That civilian did not cause them to pull over.

Did the person do the right thing and are they allowed the benefit of the Shelter Rule? Or should they be punished as a drunk driver because there was someone who observed them driving?  These are still issues that haven’t really been ironed out. However, there really should be an encouragement to pull over to the side of the road and relinquish control.  Unfortunately, it’s not clear when someone relinquishes control.

It Is Advisable to Place the Car Keys out of Easy Reach and Sit in the Back Sit If You Are Utilizing the Shelter Rule

Usually, the best advice is to get into the passenger seat or get into the back seat, remove the keys from the vehicle, place them not just outside the vehicle, but far away from the vehicle.  If you put them on your roof that’s fine, but the prosecutor can always allege that, “They were still easy access.  All you had to do was to take them off the roof and then put them back in the car.”

If you have the air conditioner or the heater running, sit in the passenger seat or sit in the back seat.  This is how you can protect yourself while still keeping yourself safe from the elements.

What Should You Say to Law Enforcement While You Are Utilizing the Shelter Rule?

Interviewer: What are the one tell the officer at that point when they get pulled over and they’re trying to apply the Shelter Rule?

Speak as Little as Possible and Avoid Incriminating Admissions

Brian: I think it’s a combination of having done the right thing and keeping quiet.  If an officer comes upon someone who is parked in a parking lot, keys in the ignition, air conditioner on, and maybe the person is under the influence of alcohol, the officer doesn’t necessarily know that the person drove there in an intoxicated state.  Usually, a person makes the mistake of admitting to too many things.  The person might say, “I was drunk.  I was at a bar and then I drove here because I felt I was drunk.”

It’s still possible to get the Shelter Rule defense. But then there becomes the added issue of did you just admit to driving in is that going to undo any Shelter defense?  As usual, admissions are the thing that harms the client the most.

They need to learn to keep quiet and to not say anything.  They have a constitutional right to remain silent and they should invoke that.  They should utilize it.

By Brian Douglas Sloan

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Brian Douglas Sloan


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Why DUI Attorney Brian Douglas Sloan?


19+ Years SOLELY Focused on DUI Defense


4,200+ DUIs Successfully Defended

Top Accolades

  • Only DUI "Power Lawyer" in the Nation Featured in USA Today, 2022

  • Top 10 in Arizona

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Top One Percent in the Nation

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

I have spent my entire career SOLELY focused on Arizona DUI Defense Representation, having personally defended more than 4,400 Driving Under the Influence (DUI) clients in the past 19+ years.

If you’re looking for a Divorce Attorney, Tax Attorney, Civil Attorney, etc., I can comfortably say, "I’m not the one for you." I ONLY defend DUI cases in most of Maricopa County, Arizona.

Coming up with traditional, as well as outside-the-box motions and defenses for my clients, often with good results, is the hallmark of my practice.

Lawyers that say they are "aggressive" or "will fight for you" are a dime a dozen. They use these phrases because it is a proven advertising phrase. Being "aggressive" isn’t the same as being good, and is often used to put on a show to hide the fact that they aren’t doing anything meaningful for the client.

The same is true for the Lawyers claiming to do DUI Defense, and Criminal Cases, and Accident Cases, and Divorces, etc. A Jack-of-all-Trades is a master of none! By handling all sorts of cases, they take away from their ability to truly focus on DUIs, and keep up-to-date on the latest changes in DUI Defense Representation.

What I offer is intelligent, quality DUI Defense at an exceptional price. Unlike many other law firms, if you hire The Law Offices of Brian D. Sloan, you actually get me representing you, doing all the work, and working the case. You aren’t hiring one guy with all the experience, but getting the underling with very little knowledge or experience.

I work seven days a week on my client’s cases, and spend hours laying all my thoughts out for my clients in writing, so they can understand their options, and my recommendations. No other DUI Lawyer in the state does this. I try to do what I can to go above-and-beyond for my clients. I hate when the businesses I deal with nickel-and-dime me with hidden costs, and I take pride in not doing that to my clients.

I have not only taught other lawyers how to do DUI Defense Representation at statewide seminars, but I have produced DUI Legal Guides used by defense lawyers across Arizona.

I am one of Arizona's most award-winning DUI Defense Lawyers, as well as being recognized nationally. I was the only DUI Defense Lawyer in the United States named a "Power Lawyer" in a 2022 issue of USA Today

There are no other private Lawyers in Arizona that have personally defended more DUI cases than I have. And as a bonus, I offer a very reasonable flat rate for my legal services, with a payment plan, and without any hidden charges. This guarantees that I offer some of the most competitive rates among all Arizona DUI Attorneys, while being a well-documented and preeminent leader in the field of DUI Defense Representation.

Over the years, countless people have come to me after discovering that their first lawyer made a mistake, gave them false hope or false promises, or simply took their money and didn't do much to advance their case. And you would be surprised at how often this happens.

So, instead of wasting time and money on the wrong DUI Defense Attorney, do yourself a favor and get the proven and well-recognized best DUI Lawyer in Phoenix and the surrounding areas of Maricopa County.

You can reach me on my personal cell phone at 480-720-7839 for a Free ‘In Depth’ Consultation.

I personally defend DUI cases in urban Maricopa County City, Town, and Justice Courts, including:

Ahwatukee / Agua Fria / Arcadia Biltmore / Avondale / Buckeye / Chandler / Country Meadows / Desert Ridge / Dreamy Draw / Downtown / East Mesa / El Centro / Encanto / Gilbert / Glendale / Goodyear / Guadalupe / Highland / Kyrene / Litchfield Park / Maryvale / McDowell Mountain / Mesa / Moon Valley / North Mesa / Peoria / Phoenix / Queen Creek / San Marcos / San Tan / South Mountain / Scottsdale / Tempe / University Lakes / West McDowell / West Mesa / White Tank

For any other Courts in the State of Arizona, including Felony cases, I would recommend my associates on The Arizona DUI Team, whom I work closely with, but I am not the one personally representing the client.

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Brian Douglas Sloan

DUI Attorney

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