Alaska, like virtually all other states, criminalizes three ways you may be convicted for driving under the influence:


1. If you are actually driving;

2. If you are ‘operating’ a motor vehicle; or

3. If you are in ‘actual physical control’ of a motor vehicle.


The general public doesn’t realize that you may be convicted of DUI for sitting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle with the engine running. In fact, in one case, Conley, a woman was convicted for opening the door to her car, keys in hand, without starting the car. The court determined that her conduct was so dangerous as to constitute a DUI. [Just for comparison: If a person intended to rob a bank, stood on the steps to the bank, gun in hand but was apprehended before going inside, he might be convicted of attempted bank robbery but not an actual robbery. DUI is the exception to the rule, where there is no attempt charge.]


Each case turns on its own facts. I have had several ‘sleeping in the car’ cases that were dismissed or reduced, others that were not.