When it comes to sleeping in your car, the most common situation is when you have had too much to drink, your cellphone is dead (unable to call a designated driver or request an Uber/Lyft ride), and it is too late to catch a cab. Due to your limited options, you head to your vehicle and decide to take a brief snooze to sober up before driving home.
In some cases, however, drivers can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) when they aren’t driving. According to New York State law, a person cannot operate a motor vehicle a motor vehicle while intoxicated, or while your ability is impaired by alcohol, while on a public or private road.
In order to “operate” a motor vehicle, it is as simple as turning the car on or placing the keys in the ignition. A vehicle doesn’t have to be in motion to be considered “operating.” Thus, an essential element is that the individual is behind the wheel for the purpose of driving it.
Fortunately, you can take steps to protect yourself from being charged with a DWI for sleeping in your vehicle. For instance, if you sleep in the backseat—not the driver’s seat—with the keys far away from the ignition and away from your person (i.e. in the glove compartment or in the trunk), it can make it difficult to prove that you had the intention of operating the vehicle while intoxicated.
At Foley Griffin, LLP, we recommend that you avoid being in this type of situation in the first place. Despite taking the precautions we mentioned above, you may still be subject to arrest. However, if you have been arrested for sleeping in your vehicle, our Nassau County criminal defense attorneys can evaluate your case, determine all of your available legal options, and help you obtain the most favorable outcome possible.
For more information, contact us and schedule a free consultation today.