Can I Get a DUI for Sleeping in My Car But Not Driving?

May 1, 2017 — by James E. Novak Attorney PLLC
Tags: Dui Actual Physical Control

A police officer and a man behind the wheelDrunk driving charges can change your life and potentially even your livelihood. That's why it's important to speak with a Phoenix drunk driving defense attorney about your case. Legal help following a DUI arrest can help you keep your life on the right track without detours.

Yet DUI cases can become complicated, particularly when laws regarding actual physical control (APC) can lead to drunk driving charges while people are in stationary vehicles. Let's explore this topic with regard to sleeping while in your car.

Sleeping It Off May Not Be a Way to Avoid DUI

Many people think that as long as you aren't driving a car while drunk, you can't be charged with drunk driving. Because of this, they may sleep in their parked car until they are sober. Sleeping it off seems like a way to avoid drunk driving charges, but it isn't so cut and dry.

Sometimes people are issued DUIs for sleeping in their vehicle. Even when the car is not moving and the motor isn't running, they'll get arrested for a DUI.

The Law Regarding Drunk Driving Charges

Arizona state law says that it is illegal for a person to drive or be in physical control of a vehicle when their BAC is .08 or over. There is no leeway for sleeping in your vehicle, but there are ways that police officers can interpret the law depending on the circumstances of your case.

The Issue of Physical Control of a Vehicle

If you are found asleep in the driver seat of your vehicle with the keys in the ignition and your seat belt on, this might be interpreted (albeit liberally) as being in control of the vehicle. If you are parked along the side of the road rather than on a street or in a parking lot, it could also bee argued that you drove while drunk before eventually stopping to sleep until you are sober.

There are so many potential factors and complications to take into account in such matters. Rather than take a chance by sleeping in your vehicle, it's better to consider other options if you are drunk and wish to avoid driving.

Try to Get a Ride or Stay at a Friend's Place

If you are drunk and unable to drive yourself home, it's best to get a ride from friends, hire a cab, or stay with a friend until you are sober. You can return to pick up your vehicle at a later time as needed. This helps prevent you from getting behind the wheel and having to deal with the myriad complications of DUI arrests in a vehicle that is not moving.

Tips on Sleeping It Off Legally

If you have no choice but to sleep it off until you are sober to drive, consider the following tips that can keep you safe and avoid a DUI charge:

  • Do NOT put the keys in the ignition
  • Do NOT turn on the headlights
  • Place your keys in your pocket, purse, or the glove compartment
  • Sleep in the passenger sear or the backseat of your vehicle
  • Make sure you are parked in a safe place rather than the shoulder of a road
  • Avoid driving until you are completely sober

Speak with an Experienced DUI Attorney

For more information about your legal options in drunk driving cases, be sure to contact an experience DUI defense lawyer today. An experienced attorney can help you understand your best legal options and will fight for you every step of the way.

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