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Can I Get a DUI for Sleeping in My Car?

After a night of drinking, you may think it is a good idea to avoid drunk driving by sleeping it off in your car for a few hours. Unfortunately, you can still be arrested for a DUI in Ohio for doing such a thing.

But with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side, you may have an opportunity to either get your entire case dismissed or your charges reduced significantly. Developing an effective defense strategy is based on the circumstances surrounding the arrest.

DUI laws in Ohio prohibit the “operation” of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.01 (HHH), defines “operation” as “to cause or have caused movement of a vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley.” They do not need to observe a suspected drunk motorist driving the vehicle, rather, the officer can use the circumstantial evidence to establish operation.

Circumstantial evidence that may prove a DUI suspect was driving include the following:

  • An engine is running or hood that is still warm
  • Tires tracks that are still warm
  • The keys are in the ignition
  • The suspect is sleeping in the driver’s seat
  • The vehicle is pulled over to the side of the road or highway
  • The vehicle is damaged and next to the scene of an accident

So if you fall asleep in the driver’s seat with the engine on to turn on the heater or radio, even if you didn’t go anywhere, there is a possibility that you may be arrested for a DUI. In order to successfully avoid a conviction, you must make it difficult for police officers and prosecutors to prove you were operating the vehicle. You could do so by sleeping in the backseat, storing the keys in the glove compartment or trunk (i.e. someone not immediately accessible to you), leaving the engine off, and parking in a legal spot.

At Patituce & Associates, we recommend that you avoid being in this situation by either getting a ride from a designated driver or request a ride through Uber or Lyft. If an officer cannot arrest you for DUI, he or she may still charge you with physical control and possibly impound your vehicle.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Cleveland, contact Patituce & Associates and speak with our experienced criminal defense attorney today.

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