If you are legally intoxicated and have nowhere to go, sleeping in your car may seem like the right thing to do. In some cases you may be right, but in California, it can also land you in hot water. If an officer has reason to believe that you drove, or were in a position to drive while intoxicated, you could be charged with driving under the influence (DUI). No one can predict the future and sometimes sleeping in your car may be your only option. Here are some tips to help keep you safe in the event you find yourself sleeping off a buzz in your car.
Is It Legal to Sleep In My Car?
The short answer is it depends. Even if you are not intoxicated, it may still be illegal to sleep overnight in your car. In California, it varies from city to city and if you are parked on private property, it is up to the owner’s discretion as to who and what they will allow.
If sleeping off a buzz in your car is your only option then you should take all measures to minimize your risk. To charge you with DUI, officers will need to prove that you were in control of a vehicle while intoxicated. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe if find yourself in this position.
- Do not turn on the car: Turning on your car, even if only to listen to the radio or turn on the heater, may constitute “operating a vehicle.” It is best to avoid placing your keys anywhere near the ignition.
- Sleep in the back of the car: Sleeping or being in the driver’s seat can give the appearance that you drove or were about to drive the vehicle. If questioned, officers may go with any information that suggests you were driving.
- Park somewhere safe: If you think there is a chance you might not be able to drive home, park in a safe location before drinking. Try not draw attention to yourself by parking in an unusual place like alone by the side of the road. Officers are likely to check on cars that are off the road to make sure drivers are okay.
- Do not admit to driving: If an officer has reason to believe that you have been drinking and driving, they may ask about your night. Say as little as possible to decrease your chances of self-incrimination.
What If I Am Charged with DUI?
Unfortunately, even if you have made every attempt to stay safe, law enforcement can still make a case to charge you with DUI. The circumstantial nature of these cases makes it imperative that you retain the services of a knowledgeable DUI lawyer. If you have been arrested or charged with DUI, call the Fresno DUI attorneys Wapner & Jones, P.C. today.
Schedule a free consultation or dial (559) 257-4707 to find out more about how we can help.