When Sleeping in Your Car Can Still be a DWI

Driving under the influence is a serious crime, and people are starting to acknowledge that to a point that, even while under the influence, they make better decisions not to drive. However, while staying off the road while intoxicated is a good way to stay out of jail and keep other drivers safe, DWI law is somewhat tricky. It is complicated to the point that even if you are sleeping in your car, you can still get a DWI even if you had no intent to drive.

You may overindulge in a bar and think to yourself that you can’t drive home in this state. Instead, you decide to pocket your keys and instead have yourself a nice sobering nap. Unfortunately, all too often these non-drivers who are still under the influence wake up to an officer tapping on the window and likely an impending DWI arrest. Why?

Often law enforcement believes that sleeping in your car can put you at a higher risk for driving under the influence. The issue is that you might wake up later feeling slightly more sober, but still over the legal limit to drive. This means you could still commit a crime if left unchecked. Law enforcement would much rather you find another completely sober driver to get you home rather than sleeping one off in the car.

However, not everyone who decides to sleep it off will be arrested for a DWI. There are certain factors that law enforcement will take into consideration before actually arresting you. These factors include:

  • Were the keys on you or in the ignition?
  • Was the vehicle on? Even minor factors like having the headlights on.
  • Was the vehicle parked legally?
  • Were you asleep in the front seat or the back?

All of these factors can show whether you were likely to drive after drinking or not. For example, if you left your car keys inside with the bartender and settled in to sleep in the back seat, it is pretty clear to law enforcement that even if you were to wake up and decide to drive, you wouldn’t be able to do it without recovering your keys. In this sort of instance, they might let you off with a warning. However, if you were snoozing in the driver’s seat with the keys left in the ignition, even if the car was off, it still puts you as a risk factor for waking up and driving under the influence.

The safest option is to still call someone such as a friend, cab, or rideshare company to still pick you up and take you home, but limiting your risks is the way to go if you have no other options.

So what options do you have if you were arrested for a DWI while sleeping in your vehicle? That job will now fall to your lawyer to defend you. Their job is to prove that you were not in physical control of the car and never intended to be, which can be difficult to argue depending on where you were sleeping and the condition the car was in while you were doing it. However, all hope is not lost. Considering you were not actually driving under the influence, the DWI case is weaker than if you were driving the car.

If you were arrested for a DWI in Minnesota, whether you were driving or sleeping one off, contact us today. We can help you. Let the professionals at Speas Law Firm come to your defense to make sure you don’t get stuck with the punishments for having a DWI when you do not need to endure them.