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Can you get a DUI for sleeping it off in your car?

On Behalf of | Dec 19, 2019 | DUI Defense

There are several reasons you might fall asleep in your car after a night of drinking in Pennsylvania. You may realize before you start your car that you are too impaired to drive. You may begin to drive, realize you are intoxicated, and so pull over to sleep it off. You may have nowhere else to go. Whatever the reason, FindLaw warns you, you can get a DUI for sleeping in your vehicle. Fortunately, the site also provides tips for how to avoid such an outcome. 

First and foremost, FindLaw wants to make clear that some states simply have no tolerance for any person who is a) intoxicated and b) in control of a vehicle. If you fall asleep in your vehicle or with keys on your person, the state may assert that you possessed control. In these situations, the “D” in DUI does not just stand for “Driving” but may also stand for “could possibly Drive.” This is the case even if your vehicle was parked and you slept soundly in the backseat or passenger seat. 

An officer may have mercy on you, however, if you make it clear that you did not drive and had no intentions of doing so. You can do this by making it clear that you were actually sleeping and not just taking a short break. FindLaw recommends against sleeping in the driver seat. Try to sleep in the back seat or the passenger seat if available. Also, before you fall asleep, make sure to place your keys as far from your person as possible. Put them in the glove compartment, in the backseat pockets or, for the most convincing situation, in the trunk. 

If an officer does arrest you for driving under the influence despite the fact that you were sleeping, the courts will consider a few factors to determine the legitimacy of the officer’s claims. The first is the location of your vehicle. Did the officer find your vehicle parked along the curb next to your friend’s house, or was it on the side of the highway? The courts will also consider the location of your person at the time of the stop (driver’s seat, passenger seat or backseat) as well as the location of your keys. Finally, the courts will consider the operability of your vehicle. 

Your best bet is to make sleeping arrangements with a friend or family member before going out drinking. If you cannot find a place to stay, arrange for a cab, Uber or designated driver. 

The contents of this article are for educational purposes only. You should not use it as legal advice.