A long time ago, a friend’s father was arrested for a driving under the influence (“DUI”) when he was asleep behind the wheel of a parked car. Many people think that as long as they are not physically driving the vehicle, they should not be charged. But as the law stands, if you are inside your car, you are in control of the vehicle. You do NOT have to be driving to be arrested for a DUI!
Recently there was an arrest involving a public figure who argued that he was simply too tired to drive and decided to catch some zzz’s at a gas station parking lot. An officer who saw him sleeping behind the wheel woke him and made him take the sobriety field tests, which he failed. The man refused to submit a breath test.
Every year many people are arrested under the assumption that it is safer to sleep it off in a parking lot after a night of drinking in a bar or restaurant, rather than trying to attempt to drive home. Besides risking an arrest for DUI, that person is also at risk for exposure to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Each state has its own unique way of interpreting laws regarding a DUI in a parked vehicle. The best way to prevent being charged is of course to call a cab, assign a designated driver, or drink less. If you must sleep it off in your car, do not turn on the car, take the keys out of the ignition and use the back seat instead of sleeping behind the wheel.
There may be some exceptions to not being charged, such as if you passed out in the restaurant or bar and someone else placed you behind the wheel of your car. This will place the burden of proof on you when you appear in court. In any case, it is best to have an experienced DUI lawyer represent you.