Even if you’ve never been stopped for drunk driving yourself, care and control is a term you’ll hear once in awhile. The basic idea of care and control is that you don’t have to be caught actually driving a vehicle when you’re drunk; if a police officer finds you in the driver’s seat with a set of keys, he or she will assume you are in care or control of that vehicle and they may charge you with impaired driving.
One man in Ontario learned that lesson the hard way when he was found sleeping behind the wheel of an idling truck. Hugh O’Neill was parked outside of a building in London, Ontario, and when a police officer tried to wake him, he had a hard time getting up. They decided to measure his blood alcohol content (BAC) and found he was over the legal limit.
O’Neill was convicted in court, but he took his case to the Ontario Court of Appeal to try to have the charge dismissed. His argument was that he had only started the vehicle to stay warm while sleeping, and that he had planned to sleep until he sobered up.
The Court of Appeal declined to hear his case because they felt the evidence he presented didn’t prove that he had no intention of driving until he had sobered up. The intention he had to drive later also had no bearing on the fact that was in care and control of his truck while impaired.
Although this man probably isn’t happy with the outcome, the publicity surrounding his case may save others from making the same mistake he did.
If you have been drinking and you want to sleep it off, stay away from the driver’s seat of your vehicle: otherwise, you could be charged with care and control too.