Getting a DUI While Parked or Sleeping in Your Car

Getting a DUI while parked - DUI not driving defense
You can get a DUI, DWI while sleeping in a parked car, and sometimes even on private property. The best way to avoid this type of charge in the future, is choosing to sleep in the back seat with the keys out of the ignition and outside of the vehicle. This prevents an officer from assuming a person has intentions to drive, and still within reasonable control of easily operating the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or Marijuana. Identifying the best case-specific DUI not driving defense remedy that works, is often based on legal no probable cause factors with the arrest.

DUI Not Driving Defense

Can you get a DUI if you sleep in your parked car? The legal answer is yes, you can get charged with a DUI-related offense with no proof of driving, with no keys in the ignition, or even sometimes outside of your car. The proceeding information of this type of driving under the influence charge is outlined below, as well as legal tips and probable cause defenses how to avoid a “DUI while parked” conviction if arrested.

Even if your car doesn’t start, the law under the Supreme Court ruled you can get a DUI without driving and while the car is not moving or parked. Most of us have heard stories from our parents, friends, or relatives about going out “back in the day” and needing to sleep it off in the car. In fact, many of us may have done something similar when we were younger during a vacation or weekend away. While it seems harmless, today, you can actually get a DUI while parked even if you never started or moved the vehicle.

You may be asking yourself how this is possible to get charged with DUI while not driving, but this offense happens today more than one would think. When an officer sees someone in his or her car, even if it is not moving, and he or she makes the determination that this person had the intent to drive, he or she may end up being cited for DUI. Getting a DUI with no proof of driving happens to people all too often while a car is parked, and there are case-winning defenses that work for the best chances to throw out this type of charge.

These types of DUI, DWI charges without driving often happen at late night or early morning hours, in a parking lot of a fast food restaurant, bar, nightclub, or neighboring business and sometimes private property such as an apartment complex. People choose wisely not to drink and drive, while sincerely believing they are doing the right thing by sleeping it off in their car.

Unfortunately, new September 2021 DUI laws are very strict with certain rules for how to sleep in a parked car after drinking alcohol or smoking Marijuana, and too many drivers today easily find themselves charged with and fighting a DUI that is often unfair for a car that was not moving in the first place. Drivers currently dealing with these charges today, still have many legal options for “DUI not driving defense” strategies that work to dismiss a case based on individual arrest details of what happened.

DUI not driving defenses especially apply when nobody (including police) actually witnessed the defendant drive or attempt to operate a vehicle.

Reasons for DUI While Parked

There are a couple of reasons why an officer may determine that an individual should be cited for DUI when they are in a parked car:

  1. Asleep in the driver’s seat
  2. Car keys in the ignition
  3. Appearance of intent to drive
  4. Why Sleeping In A Parked Car Could Result In A DUI Arrest

Can you get a DUI for having your keys in the ignition?

Review probable cause DUI parked car 2021 laws and DUI no driving defenses that work.

Yes, under September 2021 DUI, DWI laws in every state, a person can get a DUI if you sleep in your car, regardless if the keys are in the ignition or not. The law in each state has determined an individual is still considered in physical control of a vehicle when the keys are also inside of the car, which legally means keys don’t have to be in the ignition to get charged with DUI today. However, with so many possible legal technicalities for this type of DUI offense when a person was not even driving in the first place, this is how a skilled lawyer can review an arrest and often find numerous probable cause DUI parked car defenses to get charges dropped or thrown out of court.

1. Asleep in the Driver’s Seat

You had the right intention; unfortunately, you chose the driver’s seat to sleep off your overindulgent night. If an officer were to see you in this position, it is reasonable for him or her to assume you got behind the wheel with the intention of driving. He or she has no way of knowing if you passed out while trying to start the car or if you just choose to sleep it off.

This type of DUI without operating charge often happens after another person calls police to report an individual sleeping in the driver’s seat of a parked vehicle. In many cases like this when a police officer did not actually witness a defendant driving and makes an arrest based upon a phone call of someone else calling it in, a defendant will have even better chances of winning a case dismissal in court due to lack of evidence and reasonable doubt defenses.

2. Car Keys in the Ignition

Just because you have not yet started the car does not mean you did not try it and then later changed your mind. The fact that they keys are actually in the ignition shows that you had every intention of driving when you entered the car, at least in the eyes of the law. However, in many cases when a defendant is charged with DUI without driving, the best legal defenses that do drop charges are generally based on police report technicalities or challenging an officer’s predetermined bias of DUI regarding the actual intent a defendant had of operating a parked vehicle.

3. Appearance of Intent to Drive

What if you tried to start the car and then decided to sleep it off? Maybe you realized after starting the car that you needed to rethink this and take a nap to sober up a bit. You even moved out of the front driver’s seat to show that you did not intend to go anywhere. Unfortunately, you left the keys in the ignition (as mentioned above) and left your lights on while sobering up.

Even though you are in the passenger or back seat, an officer can make a reasonable assumption that you had the intent of driving, and can therefore cite you for a DUI. This type of DUI, DWI arrest can also happen often when a person is parked while eating after going to a late night drive thru. More police officers today that are on late night DUI patrol, are on the lookout for intoxicated individuals in drive thru parking lots almost as much as they watch cars leaving a bar or nightclub.

DUI with no proof of driving defense, luckily can be established with higher chances of success after an early arrest review. Police still have to prove you were driving, or had the intent to drive, which is not always as easy for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt in court against a strong legal defense that works for a DUI charge in parked vehicle.

4. Why “Sleeping It Off” in Your Parked Car Could Be Grounds for a DUI Arrest

Many drivers mistakenly believe that people can’t be arrested, charged, and then convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) for sleeping in their parked vehicle while they are intoxicated. However simply being in a vehicle while drunk or even high on Marijuana with any level of detectable THC, can be enough for a person to be charged with a DUI, DWI offense. With that being said, many recommended probable cause DUI parked car defenses a lawyer can utilize to get charges dropped, are often based on valid legal factors due to lack of probable cause by a police officer.

The truth is some states that are considered “domain and control” states may have provisions for this type of law, but other states, like California, require individuals to be operating the vehicle in order for them to be charged with DUI. Even though a person can still get arrested for DUI while being asleep when a car is parked and motionless, an arrest review can determine the proper “sleeping in my car DUI dismissed defense” based on the specific details of what happened.

Every crime, including DUI/DWI, has what are called “elements.” Elements are different factors that must be present in order for individuals to be successfully convicted of a crime. In the state of California, for example, being in operation of the vehicle is an “element” for being charged and convicted of DUI. In 1991, the Supreme Court in California set a precedent which held that the word “drive” in the state’s DUI laws meant offenders needed to have volitionally and willingly moved the vehicle.

While this court ruling may indicate that individuals cannot be charged with DUI unless the car is in motion, this is actually not the case. Through the use of circumstantial evidence, it is possible for a prosecutor to prove that an individual drove the vehicle without the arresting officer actually witnessing the vehicle in motion. This type of “not driving DUI” scenario with an immobilized vehicle is most often proved when the officer locates the vehicle at or close to the scene of an accident or if officers find the vehicle in the middle of the road with the driver inside.

However, in cases where the officers find individuals asleep in their vehicles while intoxicated but there is no evidence the vehicle has been moved or operated recently, the officers cannot arrest those individuals or charge them with DUI. An example of this DUI with no driving situation would be when officers find an intoxicated individual asleep in a vehicle parked in a parking lot or driveway. In these cases, however, it is possible for the individual sleeping inside the immobile vehicle to be arrested for being drunk in public.

As mentioned, this is an appropriate scenario for states that are not “domain and control” states, such as the state of California. In states that are considered “domain and control,” individuals who are found asleep in a parked vehicle while intoxicated are considered to have “domain and control” of the vehicle with the ability to operate it, which means they can be arrested and charged with a DUI, DWI offense when not driving.

Here is the definitive list of States in September 2021 where the law dictates you can still get a DUI for sleeping in your car or while not driving and parked: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Since you can get a DUI, DWI without keys in ignition and these types of charges happen often today, it is important to note that even the best legal defenses that work to dismiss a case must be implemented before the first DMV hearing in order to keep your license from getting suspended in time.

Fighting Charges for “DUI When Already Parked” With DUI Defenses That Work

The best charge mitigation remedy for “I got a DUI but I wasn’t driving” always starts with a careful professional defense review of a defendant’s own arrest information in every case. An online arrest review’s primary purpose is to establish the right legal strategy early on before going to court or a DMV license hearing, that has the highest likelihood of getting DUI, DWI without driving charges reduced or thrown out in court.

Nonmoving Car DUI Probable Cause Defense
In many scenarios when police make a DUI arrest involving a parked vehicle, an arrest review often identifies legality issues that indicates officers had no sufficient cause in the first place to even approach a person inside a car that is parked. When the initial reason police had for making contact with an individual inside a nonmoving vehicle is shown to be unjustified, every charge afterwards – even including DUI-related cases when a defendant tested under the influence, must be dismissed in court under the 2021 law in every state.  This prime reason is why beyond all other case factors, the best chances of DUI dismissal success when a person was not seen driving by police, will always come down to scrutinizing the arrest details and officer report to find a winning legal technicality defense in every parked DUI, DWI case.

Recommended legal defenses that work for cases such as DUI in a private parking lot, driveway, sleeping in a car, or when keys are not in the ignition can be complex charges to fight, but it is often accomplished with expert legal advice from the start. For example, many women charged with DUI after they decide to sleep in a vehicle after drinking have unique defenses right away. One of the best such winning DUI defenses for women is how most breath testing devices are typically calibrated to read BAC levels of the average adult male.

Knowing which legal tactic has the best odds of reducing or dismissing charges in court, is always arrest-specific when identifying the right defense strategy from the details of the individual charged with DUI, DWI while not driving in a parked car. Actual physical control vs DUI are virtually the same criminal offense that also carry the same mandatory penalties if convicted in court, and why it is always ideal to get legal help soon after an arrest to mitigate consequences. There are numerous court winning defenses for how to beat a physical control charge often by pinpointing legal technicalities, when a person was not seen driving at the time of getting arrested for the DUI offense.

If you want the best chances to fight charges of DUI, DWI without operating a vehicle successfully, you should hire a top local DUI attorney to help prove your case soon after an arrest occurs. An expert lawyer significantly increases the odds of winning a DUI case involving a parked car, especially when there is reasonable doubt that you were intending to drive. Filling out the free DUI arrest review form, your arrest details will be examined online for free by an experienced local DUI specialist counsel to pinpoint a specific DUI not driving defense remedy for how to defeat the charges effectively and avoid a license suspension, with essential proactive steps to take before going to court.

What happens if you can’t afford an attorney? We are also able to assist drivers with options how to get free legal aid who are struggling to afford a lawyer, but still want to fight a pending DUI case for the best court outcome with local expert legal help. Using nearby pro bono free legal aid helps to ensure that a person never has to feel financially pressured to quickly plead guilty to a DUI charge without a strong legal defense, especially when the car was already parked and weren’t even driving in the first place.

DUI, DWI While Parked, Sleeping in a Vehicle September 2021 – “DUI Not Driving Defense” Law References:

20 thoughts on “Getting a DUI While Parked or Sleeping in Your Car”

  1. Sleeping drunk in a parked car is not a crime as long as its in a parked spot. No victim = no crime. I was arrested 2x for this and both times the prosecutor declined to prosecute this. I didn’t want to drive because I knew i was not able to. I am responsible and I don’t want to hurt anyone or myself.

    It is just the police arresting someone for no reason. Judges throw out DUI cases like this if it gets that far. Prosecutors normally decline to move forward (DNP) with this.

  2. I was charged with dui some years ago for sleeping in my car that was undrivable, the right tie rod was busted clean off. I was at a friend’s house inquiring about my friend stealing my stepsons go-cart, when I pulled in his driveway it was night and I drove my right front wheel into a hole that totally busted the right tie rod rendering the car undrivable.

    My friend stated he did not steal the go-cart that was left there the night before, without permission. However I did not want to leave my car there after accusing him of stealing from my stepson. So my friend Keith, who was with me and I just sat out front in the car we shared a six pack of beer and I fell asleep in the car to protect my car from possible vandalism retaliation, when the law was called.

    I had been asleep in my car for a couple of hour and the police could not wake me, so they opened fire with mace to awaken me. Now my witness Keith died this morning from cancer, and they never sent me a court date for the DUI charge.

    I thought the charges must have been dropped because the arresting officer was killed in the line of duty. So much bad circumstances. Now I’m facing a driving while license revoked for DUI 3rd offense. Can a lawyer help me with wrongfully being charged with DUI while I was asleep in my car and not driving at all?

    The police officer had no reason to pull me over and lied in his report, stating reason for pulling me was expired registration. The reason for the stop the officer gave was false, since he was parked hiding in the dark pulling over everyone who came by. I know this because I was sitting in the parking lot of the local bar watching him along with a lot of other people and witnesses.

    I was unaware I even had a prior second DUI conviction, because I never got a court date 10 yrs ago.

  3. Got out of the car at my boyfriends house and lights came on after we started walking towards the house. I turned around to see what the issue was and asked me if everything was ok and I said yes of course what’s the matter. They asked me why I corrected my parking it looked suspicious. I told them I didn’t want to look like an a hole towards my boyfriends dad. They took me in for a DUI breath test.

  4. My fiance was asleep in my driver’s seat, keys in lap. Parked in a parking spot. Cops knocked on the window till he woke up and they told him my car was reported stolen, which it wasnt. He refused to cooperate and asked why he was being arrested. They’re charging him with a DUI. It was literally Jan 1st 2021. Is there any way he can fight it?

    • Yes he can. Number one, he obviously was not driving or operating the vehicle regardless of the fact that he could be considered in control of it simply because the keys were in his lap regardless of what seat he was sitting in. The option of driving the car was still up to him although he obviously chose not to and it was not witnessed that he was driving the vehicle.

      If a police officer or anyone else had witnessed him driving, they are not a professional who could say that he was inebriated because they did not see him drinking. Therefore he also does not have to take a breathalyzer test as they are fallible and can be altered. It would be in his best interest to have requested a blood test and you don’t have to do the monkey dance. Just saying

  5. I got lost and stopped my car right on the edge of a ditch, it was stuck. A neighbor called police, I waited behind my car for the police, so they didnt see me driving or even in my car, but i did have a high BAC. Can it be reduced due to not being caught driving? Or at least avoid aggravated dui?

  6. I was walking home with the car parked on the side of the hwy. Keys in my pocket walking when the cops pulled up. I got into an argument with my girlfriend in the car. We pulled over and we walked opposite directions. I was arrested for a owi in upper mi.

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  8. My first DUI offense. My ex boyfriend reported me drinking and driving because I wouldn’t let him come to my house. I just got my police report, in reviewing the report there are all kinds of incorrect statements made by the police officer without him even seeing me drive and my car was parked. How in the world would I be able to prove the police officer is not being truthful? Just awful!!

    • Ask to see body cam footage or footage from patrol car. Any stop made has a recording made. If they do not have that then they are in violation of their own protocol for detention of individual. They have protocols and rules for stopping and or detaining individuals. If he did not follow his department’s procedures then the DUI has to be dismissed.

  9. I was pushing my motorcycle from bar to a store. 3 witnesses say I was riding it. The ignition box was locked no keys on me or in or around the motorcycle. I was in the store coming out, when officers called me over. Yes I was intoxicated, although there was no way to operate the bike. They gave me a dwi…how?

  10. I was sleep in my car waiting on my ride keys where on the passenger side floor shoes where off. Officers knocked on my window and said they had a call about a man being sleep in the car never seen the car move car wasn’t on no keys on person. Took me to jail on a city code none move warrant. 3 months later gotten a dui. Can my case be dismissed?

    • Nope, the key was in the car. They got you for DUI, it sucks. But they do. Perhaps unless you can prove that you were calling for a ride or something..

  11. I was asleep on the driver’s side with keys in the ignition, on the side of the road What are the chances of me beating this?

  12. I have july 5th 2016 prelim hearing on dui in baldwin boro . I WAS PARKED WITH KEYS IN THE INGNITION. BAC .123. CAN I SEE lesser charge like disorderly conduct as plea deal?

    • Store clerk refused to sell me alcohol (long story) and instead of arguing with him I left 💰 on counter for my alcohol and left the store. He called the LAW like he was supposed to (His job is to refuse alcohol sales to any visually impaired persons…he could end up in some serious s**t!).

      When I got home I realized I’d lost my wallet and it was more than likely at that store.
      Sooo..I (dumba*s) go back.

      When I pull in the parking lot, I see a sheriff car going out the other side of store. I get out put the keys in my pocket, then reach back in car window to honk horn at sheriff. He whips his car around to the side of mine, bolts out asks if I’m such n such, I reply “yes.” Shining his flashlight in my car, he starts yelling “Where’s that baby!” Which catches me off guard, so I shook my head and he yells “Don’t you lie to me”, yada yada yada.

      I didn’t feel like arguing with him either. So I refused a field sobriety and a breathLIESer (that’s how it should be spelled anyway) he reads something off a card about suspending my license and ask “Do you consent.” I say “No.” He puts handcuffs on me places me in backseat of his car.

      Minutes later, he opens door and asks if it’s okay to roll my windows up and lock the doors on the vehicle because we were on private property (store) and my car didn’t have to be towed. I tell him the keys were in my pocket so he fished them out.

      Well on my ride to jail I was wondering what was I being charged with, and I wasn’t even told my Miranda Rights.
      Theft for Taking?
      Disorderly Conduct?
      Public Drunkness?

      Nooo… I was charged with a DUI !?!!?!
      On top of all this, when I got out of my car at the store I kicked my stained up mowing shoes off so was barefoot when booked. I signed my own bond at 3am, couldn’t get anyone on that one phone call, so I left the jail walking BAREFOOT at 3:00am. no cell phone, no money and NO SHOES.🤔

      • Sobering up in your car and avoiding arrest – is what I think the OP was asking about and having better chances at getting a plea deal. Under new 2020 DUI laws, it is difficult to know how can you make the safe choice by sleeping in your vehicle while at the same time being sure to avoid arrest and DUI conviction just the same as if you drove.

        What is the most unfair is that the DUI law in every state does not even require a police officer to have to witness or observe the driving, in order to still arrest a person for DUI or DWI in a parked car.


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