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Can I Get A DUI Sleeping It Off In My Car?

  • September 1, 2017

    One question that many people have is whether they can be arrested for a DUI even if they weren’t actually driving. We often see clients who were arrested and charged with DUI simply because they had been drinking and decided to sleep it off in their car instead of attempting to drive home. Even though you were doing the smart thing and not driving after you’d been drinking, the truth is that you can still potentially be charged with a DUI. However, whether or not the DUI charge will stick depends in large part on the circumstances surrounding your arrest.

    Arrested for Sleeping in Your Car Drunk?
    A fairly common DUI situation is when a person leaves the bar after having had too much to drink, and rather than risk driving home drunk, they instead decide to take a quick nap in their car to sober up. Alternatively, you might just decide to sit and wait for a bit, but instead you end up falling asleep while listening to the radio. Either way, if the police happen to see you sleeping in your car, there is a high chance that you could be charged with DUI.

    In situations like this, whether or not you can be charged with a DUI depends on where you’re sitting and where your keys are. If you fell asleep in the driver’s seat with your keys in the ignition, you will almost always be charged with a DUI even though the engine isn’t running and you weren’t technically driving. On the other hand, if you were sleeping in the back seat and your keys are in your pocket, an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney may be able to successfully argue that this doesn’t constitute driving under the influence.

    The Importance of Physical Control
    If a police officer finds you sleeping in your car drunk, the most important factor in the case is whether or not you can be considered to be in physical control of the vehicle. A person does not actually have to be driving to be charged with driving under the influence, and even the intent or possibility to drive can be enough to achieve a conviction.

    This is why where you’re at and the location of your keys are such vital factors, as these can be used by the prosecution to prove that you are in physical control of the vehicle. If you are sitting in the driver’s seat and the keys are in the ignition, the prosecution will usually be able to successfully argue that you were in control of the vehicle. In this case, you will most likely be charged with a DUI. On the other hand, if you were sleeping in the backseat and your keys were in your pocket or the glove box, your lawyer may be able to argue that this doesn’t qualify as being in control of the vehicle.

    Unless you don’t have keys to the vehicle anywhere on your person, falling asleep in the driver’s seat is a surefire way to face a DUI charge. Even sleeping it off in the back seat can result in a DUI charge especially if your keys are in the ignition. In this case, a prosecutor will still be able to reasonably argue that you could have been in physical control of the vehicle and thus you should be charged with a DUI.

    Avoiding a DUI for Sleeping It Off
    If you ever end up in the situation where you feel like you need to sleep it off in your car in order to sober up before driving, it is imperative that you pay attention to where you sleep and where your keys are. If you end up falling asleep in the driver seat and the keys are anywhere in the vehicle, the prosecution will have a strong case to charge you with DUI. Similarly, if you fall asleep with the keys in the ignition, even if you’re in the backseat, you may still be facing a DUI conviction.

    For this reason, it is essential that you always head to the backseat should you ever feel it’s necessary to sleep it off. At the same time, you also need to make sure to keep the keys in your pocket or at least don’t put them in the ignition. Even if the car isn’t turned on, the fact that the keys are in the ignition is enough to prove that you have physical control of the vehicle and thus to charge you with a DUI.

    Although there are still numerous strategies that your lawyer can use to defend you in this type of case, you’ll still be far better off to not let yourself get into this situation in the first place. Nonetheless, if you have been arrested and charged with a DUI for sleeping it off in your car, it is always a good idea to seek the assistance of an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer.

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