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Can I Get a DUI for Sleeping in My Car While Drunk?

Understanding the Laws Surrounding You, Alcohol, and Your Control of a Motor Vehicle

The acronym DUI is misleading in West Virginia cases. While the charge is named for drunk driving, officers are able to incriminate those who weren’t observed to be driving at all. Instead, West Virginia bases DUI charges on the person deemed to be in physical control of the vehicle. Even if they made no attempt to start and drive the car, an inebriated individual inside their vehicle can be charged with a DUI simply based on the fact that they have the ability and opportunity to drive their car.

West Virginia law enforcement can insist that a driver is in control of their car and thus susceptible to a DUI arrest if:

  • They are sleeping in the driver’s seat, as it could be interpreted as an intent to drive
  • The keys are in the ignition, even if the car is not started, as it could be seen as a failed attempt to drive
  • The engine is running, even if it’s to use the heater or air conditioner, charge their phone, or listen to the radio, as it could be seen as preparing to drive

Our lawyers can fight to defend your innocence if you have been accused of and arrested for a DUI while resting in your car. If you wish to maintain the right to rest in your car while drunk without fear of an arrest, you could:

  • Keep the car turned off with the keys out of the ignition and stowed away in your bag, glovebox, or elsewhere
  • Sleep in the backseat
  • Call a sober friend to pick you up and drive your car home

Our firm understands that sometimes a taxi or Uber fare is out of your budget. If you’re being threatened with a DUI conviction after taking precautions to refrain from driving until sober, our firm can fight for you. If you or a loved one have been charged with a DUI while sitting idle in your car, contact Sutton & Janelle, PLLC for aggressive defense.

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