February 26, 2021

calm woman resting in car backseat with earphones

DUI While Sleeping in Car What You Should Know

You can get a DUI while sleeping in a car. What do you get when you combine a driver who is asleep in his or her vehicle with a police officer on a DUI patrol ? A DUI arrest. Maybe you thought that a person could not be arrested for a DUI while they are sleeping in their car. You thought wrong.

Police officers are trained to question you for a DUI and will assume that you were driving if you were in the driver seat of the car and appear to be the driver of the vehicle and have physical control of the car. 

The Adverserial System Forces the Officer to Make an Arrest for a DUI While Sleeping in a Car While Parked

The reason why you can get a DUI while parked is that everything is taken into consideration and the system is an adversarial one where both the defense and the prosecution battle it out. In other words, the police and judges leave it to the lawyers to fight it out in front of the court system.

shows breathe test device used for DUI
Breathe test machines are used in DUIs

1) Why “Sleeping It Off” in Your Parked Car Could Be Grounds for a Can DUI While Sleeping in a Car

With the assumption that you are under the influence of alcohol, the officer will start a series of Field sobriety tests and treat the situation as if you were driving the motor vehicle in the adversarial system of trial courts. This leaves it to you to avoid the conviction or to the district attorney to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of over .08.

California Law Regarding DUI While Sleeping in a Car

Circumstantial Evidence and a DUI While Sleeping in a Car

Legal professionals call this term circumstantial evidence. This asks the jurors to take into everything they see as evidence to make a conclusion based on the circumstances.  For a DUI While Sleeping in a Car, they would consider the location of the car and where it was parked and the position of the driver as they sat in the car. In addition, they would inquire whether they were in the driver seat or the backseat to determine physical control of the vehicle. Finally, they will also check cameras around the area, look for witnesses, and check your engine to see if it was warm to prove that your vehicle in motion. 

Do the police have the right to investigate you if you are sleeping in your car?

Yes.  They do have the right to investigate and will justify this via a welfare check

Asleep in the Driver’s Seat?

Factors that make it make it more likely that you are DUI are your keys being in the ignition and you sitting in the passenger seat with the gears being on Drive. However, as will be discussed below, the prosecution still must prove the charges. 

A DUI Sleeping in the car will often involve a vehicle that is properly parked and a denial of recent driving. It takes more than containers of alcohol inside the car in front of private property for the prosecution to prove a case to a jury for a DUI as will be discussed below. 

2) Defenses to a DUI While Sleeping in a Car

Time of Driving Needs to Be Established to Prove a DUI While Sleeping in a Car

Time of driving is often a big issue for prosecutors when making a case. A skilled lawyer will make these types of charges challenging for a DA. The lawyer with the right ability will be able to highlight the lack of evidence to a jury. A DUI attorney with the right ability will emphasize the location of where the parked vehicle and the lack of driving a driving time. Without time, there can’t be a DUI. 

Central Justice in Santa Ana prosecutes a lot of No Drive DUIs from Orange PD.

If witness then who was driving?

Many times there will be a witness calling in a 911 call for a car that appears to be driving under the influence. The caller would go on their way. In situations like this, the police officer would assume there is enough to make a case if they found someone in the driver seat with physical control. However, the passage of time is important in this situation because the person doing the drunk driving can be the passenger in the car.

When Did Drinking Occur?

It is not illegal to be drinking at home or park and have a breathalyzer test twice over the legal limit. A DUI needs more than a determination of being in the influence and a vehicle in the driveway. The officer needs to prove via admission or observation that the drinking happened before driving and the person operated the vehicle as an impaired

3) Operating or in Actual Physical Control Needs to be Proven in DUI While Sleeping in a Car

Although keys are in the ignition and the driver is under the influence of drugs, the police still need to show the time of driving and or actual driving. They need to show every element of a DUI and if they do not then the verdict should be not guilty of drunk driving charges. The bottom line is the police need to show more than a car with a drunk person in a parking lot. An experienced defense lawyer will be able to highlight this to a jury.

Speak with an Experienced DUI Attorney

An experienced DUI Attorney will be able to highlight to the prosecutor and or the jury the lack of physical control of the vehicles in a “no drive DUI case” In addition, they will be able to use the DMV hearing to get Audio and Video in your case to prove the lack of a driving time. You don’t have to be in the backseat of a car to highlight this fact. It’s a matter of whether the prosecution can prove their case is more than just you sitting in the parking lot and you were in fact driving under the influence. These cases are often negotiated into wet recklesses in Orange County.

Bonus) How Can I Avoid a DUI in a Parked Car?

Moving vehicles destroys “the no drive DUI Defense”. If you have an overindulgent night it is best to never drive and if you ever decide to sleep it off inside your car the number one thing you can do is sleep in the backseat or passenger position side of the car. In addition you’ll want safe a location such as parking lots and not on the side of the roadway. Do not move your car while you under the influence.  By sleeping in the car, you are showing you do not have the ability nor the intent to drive and setting yourself up to the best scenario to fight an accusation of driving under the influence. 

With a skilled DUI attorney, the jury will only see an immobilized vehicle, with a person sleeping in the passenger position of the car after a night of drinking with friends. The verdict will be not guilty of DUI.