Should You Sleep in Your Car if You’re Too Drunk to Drive?
You go to a fun party, you mingle, dance, sing and have a few too many drinks. On the way back to the car, you realize that you are simply too drunk to drive. As a result, you sit inside and have a nap, waiting for the effect of alcohol to subside.
Does this sound like a common scenario? Do you think it’s the smart thing to do? You should know that in Arizona, you risk getting a DUI charge even if you’re not operating the vehicle. Here’s how it could happen.
Arizona Laws and Physical Control of the Vehicle
Whether you are sleeping on the front or the back seat of the automobile, you could run into some trouble with the police.
In Arizona, there is a presumption that even if you are not driving, you have the ability to set the car in motion. This is particularly true for individuals who are sitting and napping in the seat of the driver. Even if the keys aren’t in the ignition, an officer can still get suspicious and do a DUI check.
One Supreme Court ruling, however, suggests that the laws aren’t interpreted so stringently every single time. In State of Arizona v. Zavala, the Supreme Court determined that it would be reasonable to allow a drunk driver to completely pull off the road, turn the key off and sleep until they’ve managed to sober up. The court’s ruling has come to counter the alternative – a drunk driver attempting to get home as fast as possible and without getting caught by the police.
The Factors that Will Affect a Police Decision
A decision about the physical control of the vehicle and whether the person inside has committed a crime will be left to the police officer. Several factors will be examined to make a determination. The most important ones include:
- Whether the vehicle was running at the time of the inspection
- Whether the ignition was on and the key was in it
- Where the person was found inside the car and whether they were sleeping at the time being
- Whether the vehicle was completely pulled off the road
- Whether the lights were on
- Whether the person inside the car was asleep or completely awake at the time
It is up to the police officer to determine whether the person poses danger to the general public. As you can see, a lot is left to interpretation, which is why individuals having the best of intentions could end up facing DUI charges for being too drunk to drive.
What You Need to do to Avoid a DUI Arrest
When you’ve had too many drinks, it’s certainly best to refrain from driving. Getting a cab home or asking a friend to give you a ride will enable you to overcome all possible complications stemming from physical control of a vehicle.
If you don’t have any other option but to sleep in the car until you are completely sober, make sure that the automobile is parked somewhere safe (off the road) and that the headlights are turned off. Getting the key out of the ignition and sleeping on the back seat are other approaches that will make it very unlikely to have issues.
In the case of police officers arriving to the location, it would be best to invoke your right to remain silent. Any explanation you attempt to provide could contribute to an easier DUI arrest.
Depending on the situation, you could be taken into custody. At this time, you should call your lawyer. Because such situations are open to interpretation, an experienced DUI attorney will know how to challenge the arrest and the procedure that has led to the unlikely DUI charge.