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Can you get a DUI for sleeping in your car?

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2022 | Firm News |

You certainly know that you can get DUI charges for operating your vehicle after you’ve had too much alcohol. But say that you’re trying to be safe and you realize that you’re too intoxicated to drive. You decide that what you’re going to do is take a nap in your car, wake up when you feel sober and then drive home safely.

However, you may have heard that people can be arrested for sleeping in their car if they are impaired. Is it actually possible to get a DUI if you’re not driving?

Control of the vehicle

As surprising as it may sound, you can definitely get a DUI for sleeping in your car, and it has happened. The issue is that the court still sees this as being in control of your vehicle, at least in some situations.

For example, in the landmark case that defined how this would be approached in Montana, the individual in question was sleeping in a running car. They claimed that they simply wanted to sleep in the vehicle, but the police claimed they were still in control of it and gave them a DUI. The argument here is that the person could’ve been driving just prior to pulling over or may have accidentally passed out and just claimed to be sleeping.

But you can see how this raises some questions. During the winter months, you may want to run the car while you sleep so that you can stay warm for a few hours and get sober. You think you’re doing the right thing and being safe, but then a police officer knocks on the window. Make sure that you know about all of the legal defense options you have.