State v. Love

In State v. Love, 182 Ariz. 324, 897 P.2d 626 (1995) the Arizona Supreme Court rejected a "rigid, mechanistic analysis," finding it "preferable" instead "to allow the trier of fact to consider the totality of the circumstances in determining whether a defendant was in actual physical control of his vehicle." 182 Ariz. at 326, 897 P.2d at 628. This was a departure from previous case law, notably State v. Zavala and State v. Webb, 78 Ariz. 8, 11, 274 P.2d 338, 340 (1954), which had established a "bright line test" whereby a driver who had pulled off the road and turned off the engine was determined not to have been in actual physical control, a policy-based analysis designed to encourage impaired drivers to remove themselves from our state's highways. Love, 182 Ariz. at 327, 897 P.2d at 629. The Love court rejected such an approach in favor of a "'totality' approach that recognizes that each situation may be different and requires the fact finder to weigh the myriad of circumstances in fairly assessing whether a driver relinquished control and no longer presented a danger to himself or others." Id The Arizona Supreme Court stated that the issue of actual physical control required the trier of fact to determine "whether the defendant was simply using the vehicle as a stationary shelter, or actually posed a threat to the public by the exercise of present or imminent control over the vehicle while impaired." The court also explained that "it is reasonable to allow a driver, when he believes his driving is impaired, to pull completely off the highway, turn the key off and sleep until he is sober, without fear of being arrested for being in control." Id.