DUI Charge for Sleeping in Your Car?

Jonathan Burton Blecher

Written by  Pro

DUI / DWI Attorney

Contributor Level 17

Posted over 1 year ago. 1 helpful vote


Being in “actual physical control" of a motor vehicle can get you arrested for DUI.

This means is that in Florida, and many other states, you can be arrested for driving under the influence even though you aren’t driving. In other states, such as California, there must be “volitional movement" for DUI. The definition of actual physical control differs by state but the legal analysis centers on whether or not you have the ability to operate the vehicle

If you feel that it is necessary to pull over, or not even drive your lawfully parked car, find a lawful parking space instead of pulling over by the side of the road. Move to the passenger’s seat to sleep and make certain that the engine is turned off, and that the keys to the vehicle are not in the ignition.

Factors that are considered when determining actual physical control may include:

    • If you’re awake
    • If your headlights are on
    • Where the ignition key is
    • If the vehicle is legally parked or in the roadway
    • If your vehicle’s engine is running or the ignition is on
    • Where and in what position you are found in the vehicle

Laws differ from state to stater and each factual patternis looked at on a case by case basis, but here are some examples of cases where people have been charged with DUI and were not driving.

  • Sleeping in the drivers’ seat of their car with the car off and their keys in their pocket.

  • Stting in the drivers’ seat with the keys in the ignition, just listening to music.

  • Stumbling up to their car fumbling their keys to open the door.

  • Walking from their car to their front door that had been seen previously drinking.

  • Asleep with the seatbelt on, but hybrid car with no ignition

The bottom line is if you’re under the influence, and in physical control of your vehicle, you may be arrested for DUI depending on what state you’re in.

Additional Resources

http://www.minotdailynews.com/page/content.detail/id/562773 (interesting take on the issue in North Dakota) http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=46.61.504 (and from Washington state) http://www.nh.gov/safety/divisions/hearings/compendium/superior/actualphysical.html (and, New Hampshire)

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