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Can You Get a DUI Sleeping in Your Car?

Driving while intoxicated is illegal everywhere. However, that doesn’t stop some people from driving to the bar to have a few drinks now and then. We all know that a DUI is bad, so some might think they can just sleep in their car and be ready to drive once they wake up. Unfortunately, even though it might seem like the right thing to do, it’s not always legal.

Let’s take a look at what the law says about sleeping in your car while you are intoxicated.

Can You Get a DUI While Sleeping in Your Car?

The short answer is yes. Even if you don’t plan to drive, you can still get a DUI.

In most states, it’s illegal to be in physical control of a car while you’re drunk. This means you don’t have to be driving to be seen as being in control of the vehicle. The purpose is to prevent drunk driving before it starts.

Some people argue that there’s nothing wrong with sleeping in your car when drunk, but others believe it can lead to drunk driving. A drunk person in the front seat with the keys in the ignition is just a few steps away from driving.

Let’s take a closer look at what a jury will need to consider.

Choosing Where to Sleep

Though it might seem trivial, where you sleep in the car can make a difference. If you sleep in the driver’s seat, you’re more likely to get convicted. The officer can’t tell if you fell asleep while trying to start the car or if you decided to sleep there on purpose.

If you need to sleep in your car, always choose the backseat.

Location of the Keys

Even if the car isn’t running, having the keys in the ignition suggests you might have tried to start it or could try soon. Law enforcement sees this as an intention to drive.

If your keys are in another seat or even in the trunk, it’s easier to convince the jury that you didn’t plan to drive. The further the keys are from you and the ignition, the better your chances of avoiding a DUI charge. A skilled DUI lawyer can use these details to help your case.

Intent to Drive

Any sign that you intend to drive can hurt your case. If you leave the lights on, the engine running, the keys in the ignition, sit in the driver’s seat, or hold the keys, you might get a DUI.

This can happen even if you’re not sleeping. If you’re drunk and eating in your car after a drive-thru, you can be arrested for a DUI. Officers often check fast-food parking lots just as much as they check bars and nightclubs.

In some states, like Virginia and Maryland, law enforcement needs proof that you were driving. But in other states, like Illinois, this isn’t required.

To protect yourself, make it clear that you only intend to sleep in your car. Avoid giving the impression that you’re taking a break from driving.

How a DUI Lawyer Can Help

If you get a DUI for sleeping, the jury will consider all the details of your case. They will want to know if you were in control of the vehicle while intoxicated.

Generally, the closer you are to being able to start the car, the more likely you’ll be convicted. Someone found drunk and sleeping in the backseat with the engine off will have a better chance of avoiding conviction than someone found in the front seat with their head on the steering wheel.

The court will consider where the keys were, what seat you were in, if you were alone, and if you could drive the car. A DUI lawyer can help you build a strong defense.

They will review the evidence to see if the officer missed any details or made any mistakes. A good lawyer can also help you get your license back.

Sadly, some laws seem to discourage people from sleeping off the effects of alcohol, which might make them risk driving home to avoid getting arrested for being found in their cars. As frustrating as it is, the law is the law.

The Importance of Understanding Drunk Driving Laws

Getting a DUI charge is serious, and even if you’re arrested while trying to sleep it off in your car, there’s no guarantee you’ll beat the case. You risk losing your license, facing jail time, and paying large fines.

To avoid this, take steps to show you have no intention of driving while drunk. If you do get arrested, it’s crucial to hire an experienced and reliable lawyer who can help you.

Want to get your license back? Contact The KGO Law Firm for an experienced DUI lawyer today to see how we can assist you.