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Sleeping in a car while under the influence can get you a DUI

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2024 | DUI |

Many people think sleeping in their car is a safe option if they are too drunk to drive. However, “sleeping it off” can still result in a DUI.

It is important to understand why this happens and what to do instead to avoid serious consequences.

The dangers of “sleeping it off”

If you drink too much during a night out, you might understandably believe that sleeping in the car is the responsible choice. The logic seems sound: do not drive drunk, and wait until sober before heading home. Unfortunately, the law does not always see it this way. Police can arrest someone for a DUI even if the car is not moving.

Why sleeping in the car can lead to a DUI

The key factor is control. If someone has the keys and is in the driver’s seat, the law considers them as having control of the vehicle. Even if the car is in a parked position, the intention to drive while still under the influence can lead to a DUI. Courts often look at factors like where the person is sitting, where the keys are and if the engine is running. If it seems like they plan to drive, they can face charges.

What to do instead

To avoid this risk, make alternative plans before drinking. Arrange for a designated driver, use a ride-sharing service or stay at a friend’s house. If you are already out and there is no safe way home, do not get into the car at all. If sleeping in the car is the only option, sit in the back seat and keep the keys out of reach. This shows a clear intention not to drive.

Penalties for sleeping in the car vs. a moving DUI

The penalties for a DUI while sleeping in the car are usually the same as for driving drunk. This can include fines, license suspension and even jail time. The law does not differentiate much between a moving vehicle and a parked one if the driver is under the influence. Both situations pose serious risks and result in harsh penalties.

Sleeping in the car while drunk might seem like a reasonable idea, but it can still lead to DUI charges. Understanding the law and making safe plans ahead of time can prevent legal trouble. Always choose to stay safe and sober when it comes to driving.