Dugger v. Commonwealth

In Dugger v. Commonwealth (2003) 40 Va. App. 586 580 S.E.2d 477, the passenger "forcibly took control of the steering wheel from the driver and caused the vehicle to go off the road and into a guardrail." (Id., 580 S.E.2d at p. 479.) The Virginia Court of Appeals found the passenger was in actual physical control of the vehicle. The court noted the purpose of the Virginia DUI (driving under the influence) statute is to "address ... the risk of harm posed by vehicles under the control of intoxicated individuals," and that it did not matter whether the intoxicated individual was driving in the typical sense or controlling the car by grabbing the wheel. (Id. at p. 481.) "By forcibly taking the steering over from the driver, appellant manipulated perhaps the most fundamental feature of a moving vehicle--the direction in which it would travel. That deliberate act placed him in actual physical control of the vehicle." (Ibid.)