woman sleeping in car

Can I Be Charged With a DUI if I’m Sleeping in My Car?

When you go out with friends and a drink with dinner turns into a night out, you may worry about getting home since you drove to the location. However, as a responsible adult, you decide you’re too buzzed to drive, so you sleep it off in your car. However, when you’re awoken by a knock on your window, you may be surprised to see a police officer, and even more shocked when you’re charged with a DUI. Though this doesn’t seem possible, if the law determines you were in actual physical control of the vehicle while under the influence, you can face charges. The following blog explores what you must know and why contacting a Peoria DUI lawyer is critical.

How Can I Be Charged With a DUI if I’m Not Driving?

Though it may seem impossible to receive a DUI while you aren’t driving, or even conscious for that matter, it can happen. If you are asleep in your car, but the officers have reason to believe you are in actual physical control of the vehicle, you will face a charge. This could be something as simple as sleeping in the driver’s seat of the car with your keys in the ignition, even if the vehicle isn’t running. Doing so illustrates a clear ability to start and operate the car, meaning you can face a DUI charge.

Additionally, if you pull over on the side of the road to sleep after a night of drinking, this becomes even easier to prove, as the police will know that you drove at least some distance from the bar, meaning you actively operated the vehicle at one point.

Though calling a friend or a taxi is in your best interest to make it home safely after a night out, you should do everything you can to protect yourself if you have no other option but to sleep in your car. Do not turn the car on, as this shows you were in physical control of the vehicle while under the influence. Sleep in the backseat of your vehicle, and put the keys in the trunk of your car or outside of the car. You should not move the vehicle from the parking lot.

What Are the Penalties for a DUI in Illinois?

If charged with a DUI for sleeping in your car while intoxicated, you will face the same charges as if you were pulled over while driving. A first-time DUI warrants a Class A misdemeanor. As such, you can face up to one year in jail and a maximum $2,500 fine. You will also have your license suspended for one year unless you install an ignition interlock device, which reduces the suspension to six months.

As you can see, the penalties for this charge can be harsh, especially when considering you were doing what you thought to be the responsible thing by sleeping your intoxication off. That’s why you must connect with an experienced criminal defense attorney with Giraudo Law. Our team will examine the circumstances of your arrest to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your circumstances. Contact us today to learn how we can guide you through these challenging times.

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