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Can you get a DUI for sleeping in your car while drunk?

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2024 | Drunk Driving Charges

It goes without saying that driving under the influence is a serious offense that can lead to severe consequences. What might not be clear is what happens when you sleep in your car after having a few drinks.

Many people assume that if they are not actively driving, they cannot receive a DUI charge. However, the reality is more nuanced than it might seem.

The “actual physical control” principle

The key factor is often not whether the engine is running or the car is in motion, but whether the individual has “actual physical control” of the vehicle. This means that if you are inside the car with the ability to operate it, even if you are not actively driving, you could still be at risk of a DUI charge.

The engine’s status matters

One crucial aspect that authorities consider is the state of the vehicle’s engine. If it is running, regardless of whether the car is stationary, you may find yourself facing DUI charges. Some legal systems view this as a potential danger, as the vehicle could be set in motion at any moment, posing a risk to the driver and others on the road.

Public vs. private spaces

The location where you choose to sleep it off can also impact the legality of your situation. If you park in a public space, law enforcement may be more likely to scrutinize your actions. On the other hand, being on private property might provide some level of protection, though it is not a guaranteed shield against DUI charges.

Statistics show that there were 42,409 DUI arrests in 2022. While many of these arrests pertained to vehicles in motion, the figure shows that Pennsylvania police are particularly strict on anyone who might have the intent to drive while drunk.