Can I Still Get Charged with DUI for Sleeping in My Car?

Each year, about 1.5 million Americans are arrested for driving under the influence. While the definition of a DUI mentions the word “driving,” you may be surprised to learn that you can still be charged with a DUI if you are not actively driving a vehicle.

Aron Law Firm is a team of criminal defense lawyers with extensive experience helping clients who have been charged with DUIs in California. While sleeping in your car after consuming alcohol may seem like a better option, it is crucial to know if you can still get charged with a DUI for sleeping in your car.

What Is a Non-Driving DUI?

Even though the term “driving under the influence” seems to imply that an offender of this crime must be driving to be charged, that is not always the case. There are cases where an offender may not be actively driving their vehicle but still be charged with a DUI. One of those cases includes a person who has been found sleeping in their car while they are intoxicated.

While you can still be charged with a non-driving DUI while sleeping in your car, the officer who is arresting you must be able to prove that you recently drove the vehicle while intoxicated. Here are a few indicators that may prove that you recently drove your car while under the influence.

Location of Keys

If your keys are still in the ignition, in your hand, or anywhere else that would indicate they were recently used to start the vehicle, this may be proof that you have recently driven the vehicle despite being under the influence.

Parts of the Vehicle Are Warm

After a vehicle has been running, certain parts will still be warm after the vehicle has been stopped. The areas a police officer may check to prove the vehicle was recently driven include:

  • Engine
  • Hood of the vehicle
  • Tires

Know that some of these parts will get warm when the vehicle is on even if you have not driven. While it may be tempting to run your car for a bit to use the air conditioning, reconsider if you are intoxicated.

Where You Are Sleeping

It matters where you are found sleeping when you are suspected of driving under the influence. If you are asleep in the driver’s seat, a police officer can assume you were driving before finding a place to park and sleep off the alcohol in your system. The officer can also assume that you had the intent to drive if you are found in the driver’s seat of a vehicle.

How to Avoid a Non-driving DUI

If you choose to take a nap before driving after a night of drinking, there are ways to protect yourself from being charged with a non-driving DUI:

  • Sleep in the backseat
  • Keep the engine off
  • Park legally
  • Store the keys away from your body

It is always a good idea to have a designated driver or utilize a rideshare app if you plan on being under the influence to make sure you will avoid a DUI.

Contact a California DUI Lawyer

If you have been charged with a non-driving DUI in California, you may be facing severe penalties such as fines or even jail time. It is crucial that you contact a skilled DUI lawyer as soon as possible to get help with your case.

Aron Law Firm is a team of experienced criminal defense lawyers helping clients who have been charged with non-driving DUIs in California. We understand that the California legal system can be overwhelming. That is why we provide clients with the dedicated service they deserve. To schedule to speak with us, contact us here or call (805) 500-7745.