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Yes, You Can Still Get a DUI If You’re Sleeping in Your Car


After a night of partying winds down, you’re probably eager to get home and get some sleep. You say your slurry goodbyes and quickly stumble back to your car, hoping you didn’t get a parking ticket while you were out.

As you sit in your car, you realize you’re not OK to drive. You don’t feel completely drunk, but definitely a bit buzzed. Maybe you’re just tired? Not wanting to take a chance, you recline the driver’s seat and decide you’ll try to get some sleep – “Hopefully,” you think to yourself, “If I am buzzed, I can just sleep it off.”

You don’t know how long you were asleep, but you wake up to a police officer tapping on the window. Although muffled, you can tell that he’s asking you to step out of the car. He eventually pulls out a breathalyzer and asks you to blow, you comply. You’re over 0.08% BAC, the legal limit.

The officer informs you that you’re under arrest for DUI, which shocks you. You plead with the officer, saying that you were just sleeping and never even turned on your car. He said that doesn’t matter, which confuses you, so you ask to speak with your lawyer and invoke your right to remain silent.

You Were in Physical Control of Your Vehicle

Many people believe that a DUI is limited to situations where someone is actively driving while drunk, but this isn’t always the case. As the scenario above described, you can be arrested for DUI without even turning on your car – but why?

DUI laws in Colorado and elsewhere provide some elasticity when it comes to defining a DUI incident. Nowhere in these laws does it say that someone must be driving or operating a vehicle to get a DUI – rather, they only need to have “actual physical control” over it.

“Actual physical control” can be evidenced in a few different ways:

  • Engine running
  • Keys in the ignition
  • Keys in one’s possession
  • Being in the driver’s seat
  • Parked along a road or highway
  • Engine is off but hood is warm
  • Warm tires
  • Tire tracks indicating movement to your vehicle’s current location

Any of the above factors and many others could be used as evidence against you in a DUI case, even if you were sleeping when the police found you. If you’ve yet to find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is to get a ride home from a completely sober friend or rideshare company, or even ask your host if you can stay the night.

Do You Need Legal Assistance?

If you are facing DUI charges for any reason, know that experienced legal assistance can help. At The Orr Law Firm, we can help clients charged with DUI defend against their charges. With our support, you may be able to reduce or eliminate your charges or mitigate the impact of an unavoidable conviction.

For more information about how our attorneys can help, contact The Orr Law Firm today for a free consultation.