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Can you get a DWI or DUI while parked?

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2021 | DWI Defense

Drunk drivers face stiff penalties in all states for getting caught driving under the influence. They may get various fines and penalties such as loss of licenses or jail time. However, most people in Texas are not aware they could get a DUI or DWI charge even when not driving.

Driving element

Drunk driving typically means being under the influence of alcohol while physically in control of a vehicle on a road. Drivers with poor driving ability may be charged with DUI even if their blood alcohol content falls under 0.08, which is the legal limit in most states.

Some states use the “totality of circumstance” approach in proving the driving element, which relies on several factors. These factors commonly include vehicle location, location of the driver, location of keys and operating condition of the vehicle.

“Sleep it off” defense

Congress passed stricter laws in early 2021, making it possible to get a DUI or DWI while sleeping or sitting in parked vehicles with keys in the ignition. When an officer notices an intoxicated person sleeping or sitting in the driver’s seat, the officer may have probable cause to believe that the person had intentions of driving. Some states allow the defense of “sleeping it off,” which encourages safety until the driver gets sober enough to drive.

However, an officer would not know if the driver planned to start the vehicle after drinking or was sleeping it off. It would also depend on the factors used in proving the driving element. For example, someone found sleeping in the back seat may have a better defense than someone found sleeping in the driver’s seat with keys in their hands.

A DWI or DUI charge could follow a driver a long time, making getting jobs or housing more difficult. This makes it important to get legal assistance to help review the case and fight the charges.