Can I be charged with a drunk driving offense for sleeping in my car?

You leave the bar after a few post-work drinks with friends. After walking across the parking lot, you think, “Maybe I shouldn’t drive home quite yet.” So, you decide to sleep in your car for a while until you have sobered up. Nothing illegal about that, right? Many people think they are in the clear in this situation until they wake up to a flashlight tapping on the window.

There are some circumstances where someone can be charged with a drunk driving offense, even if they were not driving. Whether you can be charged depends mainly on the following two questions:

Where was the car parked?

Ohio’s impaired driving offense, Operating a Vehicle While Impaired (OVI), requires someone to cause the movement of their vehicle. So, sleeping in your car in the parking lot of the bar you just left would not likely result in an OVI conviction.

However, prior case law in Ohio1 allows the location of your vehicle to factor into an impaired driving case. For example, if you are found sleeping in your car on the side of the road in a remote area, a judge or jury could infer that you drove to that location while impaired.

Were you in “physical control” of the vehicle?

Although someone might not face an OVI charge for sleeping in their vehicle, Ohio has an additional charge to worry about: Physical Control of a Motor Vehicle While Impaired. If someone is in the driver’s seat2 of the car and possesses keys, they can be charged with physical control. Previous cases have even held that the keys being within reach is enough.

What can you do if you are now facing criminal charges?

As with many criminal offenses, an OVI or physical control conviction can turn on just a few facts. At The Law Office of Brian Jones, we can help you put the facts of your case in the best light possible. If you were arrested because you decided not to drive home, we can help.

Contact us now to schedule your free consultation with a knowledgeable lawyer.

 

Sources

 

1 https://casetext.com/case/bucyrus-v-lewis

2 http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4511.194