Even the most responsible imbiber may find him- or herself in the unenviable position of being too intoxicated to safely drive home, while abandoned by the person meant to serve as designated driver. And in some situations, particularly on New Year's Eve and other holidays where the wait for a taxicab may be hours, you may find yourself tempted to take a brief nap in your car to sober up. Although this is certainly a much safer and more responsible choice then simply driving home while intoxicated, you may still find yourself spending the night in a jail cell, charged with driving under the influence (DUI). Read on to learn more about the laws surrounding this scenario, as well as how you can avoid potential criminal penalties if your designated driver abandons you.
When can you be charged with DUI for sitting or sleeping in your vehicle?
Many states have recently tightened their drinking and driving laws. While the legal definition of "driving under the influence" was once fairly simple and self-explanatory, it can now include such situations as riding in a vehicle as a passenger (if the driver is intoxicated) or even sitting quietly in your car.
A number of state courts have interpreted the relevant statutes to not only prohibit operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs, but also merely being in a vehicle with the capability to operate it at a moment's notice. For example, if you are sleeping in the back seat of your car and your keys are in your coat pocket, you are not likely to be deemed capable of a quick exit. However, if you are sitting in the front seat with the keys in the ignition, listening to the radio, a police officer may view this as simply a precursor to driving while intoxicated and place you under arrest.
What should you do to avoid being charged with DUI in this situation?
The best way to avoid a DUI is to never enter your vehicle while intoxicated (unless it is being driven by a sober driver). However, if you must enter your car, be sure to sit as far away from the steering wheel as you can. You should also avoid having your keys in your possession if possible. If you have an interior trunk release, you may just wish to put your keys in the trunk until you are sober enough to drive or you have obtained alternate transportation.
Contact a lawyer like one from Follender Law Offices, P.L.L.C. for assistance.Share