Alcohol Physical Control Conviction Dismissed

A “Physical Control” conviction is similar to a DUI except that the person is in physical control of the vehicle instead of driving it.  In the case of State of Washington vs. Edgar, filed in March 2021 the Washington State Court of Appeals dismissed a felony physical control conviction based on the “safely off the roadway” defense.   The defendant had parked inside a nearly empty five-acre parking lot and fell asleep with the engine running.  The opinion contained a photo from the officer’s dash cam showing the defendant’s truck sitting in a large parking lot that appeared empty or nearly empty.  The safely off the roadway defense requires the defendant to prove the defense by a preponderance of the evidence.  The Court stated that their analysis convinced them that a rational trier of fact could not have found that the defendant failed to prove the defense by a preponderance of the evidence.  It should be noted that this is an unpublished opinion which means that it has no precedential value and is not binding on any court.  However the facts of the case can provide some guidance to defendants when building their defense to a physical control charge.