Sleeping off drunkenness in a car can still land you a DUI

| Apr 27, 2018 | drunk driving |

You do not have to drive a vehicle to end up with a DUI. According to Arizona law, individuals who have physical control over a vehicle can face arrest for driving while under the influence.

That means if you have the capacity to drive your vehicle, even if you simply wanted to sleep it off, the police can arrest you for driving under the influence if you have a blood alcohol content of at least 0.08 percent.

If the police catch you snoozing in your car with alcohol in your system, you could end up in jail.

Physical control of the vehicle

Being in “physical control” of your vehicle can have several definitions. If the police catch you sleeping in the driver’s seat with your keys in the ignition, they can reasonably assume you have the power to start driving at a moment’s notice.

However, a person could place the keys in the trunk of the vehicle and take a nap in the backseat. In this instance, the police have a harder time arguing that you intended to drive.

Additionally, the police may be able to tell if you drove while drunk earlier in the evening. If you parked your car on the road’s shoulder and decided to take a nap, the police can assume you drove while drunk.

Vehicle location

Another factor the authorities consider is the location of the vehicle. For example, the police may catch a person sleeping in the car on the side of a busy road. They determine the person has alcohol in his or her system, and they assume the driver operated the vehicle earlier in the evening when the BAC would have been much higher. Conversely, sleeping it off in a parking lot shows you probably did not drive earlier.

Find other accommodations

Sleeping it off in your car may sound like a good idea, but you want to play it safe. Find another way home, even if you need to leave your car near a bar. Staying in a nearby hotel is another option.

If you must stay in your car

If your car is your only option, make it clear you had no intention of driving. Sleep in the back seat. Keep your keys in the glove box or your pocket or purse. Do not keep them in the ignition.