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Will Sleeping in My Car Result in a DUI Arrest in PA?

When you hear the bartender announcing the last call for drinks, you realize it’s about that time to head back home. However, you’re too drunk to drive.

You don’t want to take an Uber to avoid leaving your car near the bar and possibly get towed. So, instead of deserting your vehicle, you decide to sleep inside of it.

But is it possible to get a DUI for sleeping in your car? According to Pennsylvania law, the answer is "yes."

In order to be charged with DUI in this state, there needs to be proof that you were driving, operating, or had actual physical control while impaired by alcohol. While, technically, you didn’t operate or drive your car while you were sleeping, your actions could be construed as having physical control based on the circumstances of the incident.

According to police officers, common signs of having physical control of the vehicle include:

  • Your key is in the ignition
  • The engine running
  • The tires are warm
  • Your headlights are on
  • You are sitting in the driver’s seat
  • Your vehicle is parked in an illegal area or on the side of a road

At the Law Offices of William D. Thompson, our Scranton criminal defense attorney recommends you avoid this type of scenario by having a friend drive you home or request a ride using your smartphone. However, if you decide “sleeping it off” is the only option, try to make it difficult for law enforcement to determine if you’re in actual physical control of your vehicle.

Do not place your keys in the ignition and do not turn the ignition on. Rather, place your keys out of reach (i.e. in the glove compartment, center console, or someplace safe outside the vehicle). Instead of sitting in the driver’s seat, lay down in the backseat.

If you are still arrested after taking these precautions, our firm can protect your rights and future from a DUI conviction. We can assess your case, determine any weaknesses in the prosecution’s argument and police testimony, and create a strong defense to get the best outcome.

For more information, contact us and schedule a free consultation today.