Your Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney request your free consultation

Posted on June 15, 2019 in Drunk Driving

Can You Really Get a DUI for Sleeping in Your Car While Intoxicated?

$44 billion are spent on average every year in alcohol-related traffic accidents. Driving while intoxicated or under the influence results in a DUI in every state, but what if you never actually drive the vehicle? In several states you can get a DUI for sitting in a parked car while intoxicated. This truth surprises many people, but it is the law. In some states, like California, you may only receive a DUI if there is proof that you were driving, but in others, you may receive a DUI with actual physical control, which even includes trying to sleep it off. 

Operating or in Actual Physical Control

Operating or in actual physical control of the vehicle refers to having the means to initiate movement of, and in close proximity to the operating controls of a vehicle. This meant that sitting in the driver’s seat, keys in hand or in the ignition, even while the car is parked and engine off, can still lead to a DUI in several states. Driving is sufficient, but not a requirement for a DUI conviction. The purpose is to deter any type of drunk driving before it happens. States differ on how they define physical control and what factors contribute to the conviction. The bottom line is that an intoxicated driver in the front seat, even a sleeping one, is only a few motions away from driving the car.

Factors That Could Affect Your DUI

The courts have a responsibility to provide a fair and just trial, so the specifics of your DUI conviction will determine the outcome of your case. In a court of law, the closer the driver was to operating the vehicle, the more likely they are to convict. While it is a good idea to sleep it off, it is clear that sleeping isn’t always a conscious decision. For example, coincidentally falling asleep in a parked car, draped over the steering wheel, with the engine running, will not help your case. On the other hand, if you are in the back seat, away from the steering wheel and keys are not in the ignition, you have a better possibility of beating the charge. Everything from the location of the car to the location of the keys will factor into your DUI.

Location of the driver

Where you are in proximity to the vehicle, specifically the ignition, make a significant impact in your DUI case. This determines your likelihood of operating or being in actual physical control of the vehicle. The closer you are to being able to start and operate the vehicle, makes you more likely to be convicted.

Location of the car

The location of the car is also a key factor in your DUI case. This gives the police reasonable indication whether you were driving before the police showed up, and therefore how much of a threat you may have been to public safety. If you are parked in your driveway, your charges could be dropped, but if you are parked on the side of the interstate or on a sidewalk, they are less likely to be discharged.

Location of the keys

Your car requires keys to start the ignition. In a court of law, the location of the keys is a strong indication of intent to drive and actual physical control. If your keys are in hand or near the ignition, you will likely be charged.

The engine on or off?

A running engine is a clear indication of whether or not a driver was operating a vehicle. Unless other factors such as the location of the car come into play. For example, if the motorist was parked during hot time of year and the engine was running to keep the vehicle cool.

Is the driver asleep or awake?

The asleep versus awake controversy will differ in each state. Some states claim that the driver must be fully awake in order to be given a DUI, while other states look at the entire picture to determine the nature of the DUI.

Your DUI Attorneys

A DUI while sleeping in your car might sound absurd, but is more common than you think. A DUI attorney can help you put all the factors together about your case and minimize litigation as much as possible.