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Everybody knows it’s not legal to drink and drive. But what about sleeping it off in your car? Would you still receive a DUI if you’re in your parked car sleeping off your buzz or would you still get arrested? Actually, the legality of sitting or sleeping in a parked car while drunk is complicated.
Technically, police officers could very well still arrest you, but they don’t always have the right. There needs to be probable cause. So, if you’ve been charged with a DUI while sleeping in your parked car, an experienced criminal defense attorney from Dod Law, APC may be able to argue on your behalf that there wasn’t probable cause to arrest you.
Is Sleeping In Your Car While Drunk Considered a DUI?
Essentially, sleeping in your parked car after drinking isn’t cause for a DUI. The California Vehicle Code 23152 (b) states you can’t drive a vehicle if you have an above .08% blood alcohol content (BAC) level. However, as long as there isn’t any clear evidence that you moved your vehicle voluntarily, you can’t be charged with DUI.
But, here’s where it gets complicated. Regardless of where you are, if you’re drunk in public, you could be arrested if any of the following is true:
- You’re preventing, obstructing, or interfering with the free use of sidewalks, streets, or public ways
- You’re not able to care for your own safety or that of another person
The criterion for being drunk while in public isn’t quite clear, and authorities might attempt to arrest a person who is sleeping in their vehicle for being drunk in public to keep drunk drivers off the road. This is even if the individual doesn’t meet the definition of the crime. Also, if you have any cans or bottles of alcohol open in your vehicle, you can be charged with an open container law violation. Even if you didn’t drink them or the containers are nearly empty, any open alcohol containers can get you arrested.
If you received a DUI for simply sleeping in your vehicle, you should consult with a reputable California DUI attorney immediately. By investigating your case and proving there was no intent to drive and no volitional movement, an experienced lawyer may be able to have your charges reduced or even dropped completely.
Can You Get a DUI For Sleeping in the Backseat of Your Vehicle?
If all the facts of the case were to be considered, it definitely is better to be sleeping in the backseat of your vehicle if you’re drunk while also making sure your keys are not in the ignition or near you. Having the engine of your vehicle turned off makes it more difficult for law enforcement to show evidence that you were driving at some point.
Does Law Enforcement Have the Legal Right to Investigate You if You’re Sleeping in Your Vehicle?
Police officers do have the right to investigate. The law requires law enforcement to have probable cause to investigate an individual and arrest them for a DUI. But, the law does allow law enforcement to carry out a “welfare check” in order to check on an individual’s safety if they’re sleeping in their vehicle. Probable cause to further investigate can be supported by law enforcement if they suspect alcohol since a person can be charged with violating the “drunk in public” regulation found in California Penal Code Section 647(f).
In many counties or cities, there are certain ordinances against individuals sleeping in a vehicle that can support an officer’s actions to wake you up and question you. Once law enforcement investigates to see if you require any help and they observe anything that results in a suspicion of impairment, or you smell of alcohol, they then have sufficient probable cause justification to further investigate and conduct a breath or blood test.
Give an Experienced California DUI Lawyer From Dod Law, APC a Call Today
If you’ve been arrested and charged in California for a DUI, the first thing you’ll want to do is reach out to our reliable and trustworthy DUI attorney here at Dod Law, APC. DUI cases are frequently complicated and require the legal knowledge and experience of a trusted attorney, particularly in the context of California laws.
Being charged with a DUI is a serious offense with long-lasting penalties. Even if you were just sleeping in your vehicle and not driving under the influence, you could still be charged. This is why it’s important that you immediately seek legal counsel. Our team with over 18 years of experience can help defend you against these charges. Call us today at (619) 814-5110 or fill out our online form to schedule your initial free consultation.