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Can I Get a DUI While Sleeping in My Car?

Did you know that simply sitting or lying in a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol can lead to a DUI arrest, even if you are not driving the vehicle? This may go against all that you thought you knew about DUI, but it is possible. When a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the .08% legal limit, no amount of coffee or food will sober them up. Nor will an ice-cold shower, a walk in the brisk night air, or a Red Bull. The only thing that sobers a person up is time.

For those that have been drinking, sleeping it off in their car may seem like a smart option. After all, people do it all the time because they think it’s more responsible than drinking and driving. However, they could still be charged with DUI, even if they’re merely sleeping until the alcohol wears off and the sun comes up.

DUI Without Driving?

If you are sleeping in your car or sitting in it after consuming alcohol, you may be arrested for DUI. How is this possible? When an officer finds you, their first instinct will be to check your safety to ensure everything is alright. When they smell alcohol on your breath or observe other indications that you have been drinking, they can run the standard checks for DUI, including field sobriety and chemical tests.

The officer is acting under the assumption that you have driven while you were intoxicated since there is no evidence that you became intoxicated after parking the car. Based on your responses, their observations, and the results of any tests they performed, law enforcement may choose to arrest you under suspicion of DUI.

If the police believe that you were driving under the influence earlier, but pulled your vehicle over to sleep it off, DUI charges can be filed against you. In that case, it would be up to the prosecution to prove that you were drunk driving. You can also be arrested for DUI if your car is parked, you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, and your keys are in the ignition.

These situations will NOT help your DUI case:

  • You were sitting behind the wheel, with the keys in the ignition.
  • You were sitting in the driver’s seat with the engine running.
  • Your vehicle was pulled over on the side of a busy street.

Let’s say it was 1:00 a.m. and you walked to your car to sleep off the seven beers you just drank at a local bar. It was a cold night, so you put the keys in the ignition and turned on the heater as you dozed off to sleep. Even though you weren’t drinking and driving at all that night, it could be difficult to prove to the prosecution. Since the keys were in the ignition, for all the police and the DA know, you were drunk driving, then you pulled over and passed out.

If you have no other choice but to sleep it off in your vehicle for the next eight hours, be sure to lay down in the back seat, and keep your keys in the back, nowhere near the ignition. Otherwise, you could face DUI charges.

Facing DUI Charges in Orange County?

When you have been sleeping in a car and an officer questions your impairment, you need an aggressive Orange County DUI attorney on your case. If you have questions about your rights after being arrested for DUI, contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. for a free consultation.