It is extremely critical for individuals who plan on consuming alcohol to plan their transportation ahead of time. Alcohol hinders individuals’ critical abilities that are needed to safely operate a vehicle. Individuals may believe they are being responsible by sleeping in their car instead of driving home. However, the law does not agree. Individuals who sleep in their motor vehicle while intoxicated could be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) depending on the circumstances. Ultimately, the court will have to determine whether the individual was in actual physical control of the vehicle. The penalties for a DWI are extremely serious and can have long-term consequences. If you have been charged with a DWI for falling asleep while intoxicated in your motor vehicle, contact a skilled Monmouth County DWI Attorney who can help defend your rights and interests.
Can I be convicted of a DWI for sleeping in my car while drunk in NJ?
In New Jersey, individuals can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) for sleeping in their motor vehicle while intoxicated. Essentially, a person can be convicted of a DUI without even driving. Generally, an individual is considered to be drunk driving if they are sitting in front of the steering wheel when asleep and the engine is running. New Jersey courts will have to determine if the individual was “operating” the motor vehicle, meaning if they were in actual physical control of the vehicle. If it is determined their actions created the possibility of placing the vehicle in motion, they will likely be charged with a DWI. A major consideration is the intent of the impaired individual. Ultimately, it is possible for an individual to be charged with a DWI for sleeping in their motor vehicle while drunk.
What do the courts consider?
Several factors are considered when determining if an individual was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while impaired. The courts evaluate several factors including the intention of the motorist to determine whether the motorist was operating the vehicle while under the influence. The court focuses on the intent of the individual. The court will evaluate the following:
- Was the motorist asleep in the driver’s seat or backseat?
- Did the motorist have the engine running?
- It doesn’t matter if the engine was only running to turn on the heating or cooling system.
- Did the motorist have the keys in his or her possession?
- Did the motorist put the keys in the ignition?
- Where was the motor vehicle parked?
- Was the motor vehicle disabled (broken down)?
- Could the vehicle disability be easily remedied?
If you have been wrongfully accused of driving while intoxicated for sleeping in your motor vehicle, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our skilled and determined attorneys. Our team is committed to helping our clients defend their rights. We are ready to fight for you today.