Awakened to a DUI? Navigating the Perils of DUI While Sleeping in a Car

DUI While Sleeping in Car What You Should Know

3 Take Away from this Article.

  1. In places like Orange County, California, one can be charged with a DUI even if found sleeping in a car, with legal consequences similar to those of driving under the influence.
  2. For a DUI charge while sleeping in a car, the main defense often revolves around the fact that nobody witnessed the individual driving, and therefore it cannot be ascertained when they were driving or when they consumed alcohol.
  3. The positioning of the car, its engine status, and the location of the driver in the car (e.g., in the driver’s seat vs. the backseat) play crucial roles in determining if one can be charged with a DUI.

Legal Consequences and Penalties

Navigating the legal waters of DUIs can be treacherous, especially when it comes to seemingly innocuous situations like sleeping in your car. It’s a common misconception that one cannot be charged with a DUI while asleep in a car. This article dives deep into the intricacies of the law, debunking myths and presenting vital information you need to know to protect your rights.

The legal consequences of getting a DUI while sleeping in the car is the same thing as a general DUI. That prosecutors and Court will Treat you as if you were behind the wheel and driving the car. In Orange County, California the punishment is the same. If this is your first time, then it’s three years probation, and if this is your second time, you are looking at jail.

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. 

Legal Process of DUI while Sleeping in the Car.

The legal process that follows a person who got caught sleeping inside the car and arrested for a DUI is the same as a general driving under the influence case. However, the defenses are completely different. Whereas a general DUI, you may be dealing with a. Rising blood alcohol defense or improper equipment, In a DUI while sleeping in a car, you are dealing with what they call a no driving defense.

A no drive defense means that nobody saw you driving, nor can anybody say when you were driving. In addition to this, nobody can say when you had the drink as well. You could have had a drink after you got into the car and then started taking a nap. Or you can say that somebody else was driving the car. The facts here will dictate your defense.

One of the pivotal aspects of such cases involves “Sleeping-It-Off” Defenses. If you decided to sleep in your car to avoid driving while intoxicated, you might assume you’re taking proper precautions. However, you could still face charges if the police discover you in your vehicle with the engine running, even if you had no intention of driving. The position of the ignition key can be a critical factor here. For instance, if the key is in the ignition, it might suggest potential control of the vehicle, but if it’s found elsewhere, it can bolster your defense.

The biggest factors that come in is whether or not your car was properly parked. If your car was properly parked, then it doesn’t matter if you were sitting inside the driver’s seat. Many people sit in the driver’s seat to take a nap. This happens a lot during the summer months and warmer weather, especially in Southern California. If you got caught For a DUI while sleeping inside their car give our office a call.

Moreover, where the car is parked can also influence the case. Instances in fast-food parking lots might imply recent driving, while a car parked safely at the curb might indicate otherwise. The state of the vehicle headlights — whether they’re on or off — can also serve as direct evidence in the case. Additionally, an engine warm to the touch could suggest recent driving, while a cold engine could support your claim of simply using the vehicle as a resting place.

In these cases, witness statements can be pivotal. Witnesses might have seen you park the car and not drive afterward, providing crucial support to your claim. However, the lack of witnesses doesn’t mean you’re out of defense options. Remember, the prosecution must prove you were driving while intoxicated, not merely in the car. Your attorney can cross-examine witnesses and police officers to uncover any discrepancies in their stories or failures to take extra steps in their investigation, which can lead to a solid defense.

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

Unfortunate events can lead to such scenarios, where individuals find themselves facing a criminal charge after deciding to sleep in their cars, often in bar parking lots. These cases can carry severe penalties, making it crucial to seek legal assistance. Experienced attorneys are familiar with handling such cases and may utilize “Sleeping-It-Off” defenses.

These defenses often hinge on the individual being in a reclined position within a non-moving vehicle, highlighting that the vehicle was not being operated at the time. This can be a legitimate defense in some jurisdictions, emphasizing the importance of understanding local DUI laws and seeking appropriate legal counsel to navigate these complex situations effectively.

California is a Moving statute and not a control one. This means that even if you are in the car situated in the drivers seat and the engine is on. The officer or another witness must see you moving their car. If there is no car movement, then there is no DUI. However, car movement can be proven through circumstantial evidence.

Circumstantial evidence is indirect evidence pointing to a set of facts. For example, if your car was in the middle of the road. And nobody saw you drive, yet you were in the driver’s seat. Then it would be safe to use circumstantial evidence to show that you were driving. On the other hand. If you are parked properly and in the driver seat with the engine on. That would be a different story.

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. It’s crucial to comprehend the subtleties of the law and how various factors, such as engine running or the location of the ignition key, can impact the case. If you find yourself in such a predicament, knowing the nuances can make a significant difference in formulating an effective defense strategy.

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. 

Alternate Charges

It’s also possible to argue for a lesser offense if you’re charged with a DUI under these circumstances. Given that there’s no danger posed to the public by a drunk motorist who has taken the precaution to sleep it off rather than drive, your attorney might negotiate to reduce the charge to a lesser offense like public intoxication or disorderly conduct, potentially avoiding jail time.

DUI with a person sleeping inside the car is a hard case for the prosecutors to make. If you have a well seasoned DIY attorney who knows the courthouse You may be able to move this case away from a DUI And into some kind of public intoxication or disorderly conduct. The reason for this is the sleeping in the car is more consistent with public intoxication than it is with a DUI because there is no driving involved. An argument can say that you were an endangering  yourself By being passed out in the car.

The punishment for the public intoxication is significantly less than that for DUI. A DUI typically involves three years of probation Orange County. A public intoxication charge will involve one year of probation. In addition to this many times. Public intoxication charges can be negotiated to a dismissal without the conviction.

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. 

Can I still be charged with a DUI if I’m sleeping in the backseat of the car and not in the driver’s seat?

Yes, even if you are sleeping in the back seat of a car You can still be charged with the DUI. Whether or not the prosecutor can actually convict you of a DUI when you are sleeping in the back seat is another question. When someone is caught inside the back seat of their car and drunk, it usually tends to favor facts that indicate he or she was not driving the car. It also causes problem as to the time of driving. This is needed for a conviction and without it there is no case for a DUI. Instead, the proper charge should be a drunken public.

What steps should I take if I’m pulled over while sleeping in my car to minimize the risk of a DUI charge?

If you are sleeping in your car and woken up by a police officer and put into a DUI investigation, then the best thing you can do is exercise your right to remain silent. This may accelerate an arrest for a DUI, however, it is better than having to bad facts  against you. You need to avoid saying anything that will incriminate you as to when you drove the car Or if even if you were the driver. It’s also important to not say anything about what you had to drink.

How do DUI laws vary between states, and are there some places where sleeping in a car might not lead to a DUI arrest?

Sleeping inside a car while drunk can always lead to a DUI if circumstantial evidence can show that you were driving. Fortunately, circumstantial evidence in California Involves movement of a car. Whereas other states you just have to be having control of the car. This means that in California, they must show that you are driving the car. This could be done through the temperature of the car when they contacted you or how the car was situated.

What factors should I consider when choosing a lawyer to defend against a DUI charge that occurred while I was sleeping in my car?

The factors that you should consider when choosing an attorney who will represent you on a DUI charge that occurred while you were sleeping in the car is whether or not the attorney has done a. DUI trial with the no drive defense. Many DUI attorneys have not done one of these trials And you do not want to be the one they learn on.

Can a DUI conviction for sleeping in a car affect my ability to travel internationally, and if so, how?

Yes, there are countries out there that limit your ability to travel into their borders if you have a DUI. Canada is one of these countries.

If I’m in a parked car and intoxicated, what are some legal alternatives to avoid getting charged with a DUI?

If you’re parked in a car and intoxicated and want to nap it away, then the best thing you can do is throw your keys into the back seat and Sit  Anywhere except for the driver seat. The worst thing you can do is sit in the driver’s seat with the engine on. This gives the appearance of you driving the car. Also, you need to make sure that your car is properly parked.

In conclusion, while sleeping in a car might seem like a safe and responsible choice after indulging, the reality is far more legally complicated. From understanding the nuances of ‘no drive’ defenses to the importance of vehicle placement and physical control, it’s essential to be well-informed. If ever faced with this scenario, the right legal representation can make all the difference, and knowing your rights is the first step.

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