Sleeping It Off: Can You Get a DUI For Sleeping In Your Car?

Mesa’s Leading DUI Attorneys Explain Arizona’s Strict DUI Laws

After a night of drinking, it may be cheaper and more convenient to sleep in your car rather than order a ride home and back or get a hotel room. However, Arizona has thorough DUI laws that can be interpreted strictly. In Arizona, you don’t have to be driving your vehicle to be arrested for DUI- you just have to be “in actual physical control” of a motor vehicle. You may just be unlucky enough to receive a DUI while sleeping it off in your car, which will cost you far more in the short and long run. Read on to learn more about the risks of sleeping it off in your car after drinking.

Man From Arizona Sleeping In His Car While Intoxicated

Factors That Contribute To Actual Physical Control

As mentioned above, you can be convicted of DUI, even if you are sleeping in your vehicle, if you are determined to be in “actual physical control” of the motor vehicle. One of the things that will be analyzed is the position of your keys in the vehicle. If your keys are in your trunk or the backseat, it is more likely to indicate that you weren’t intending to drive than if your keys were in your pocket, or especially the ignition. Even if it is cold outside and you want the heater on, sleeping with your keys in the ignition probably isn’t worth the risk. In this situation, you would only need to bump the gear shifter for your vehicle to be set in motion.

Your position in the vehicle can also impact the actual physical control analysis in your case. While you may be able to recline farther in your driver’s seat, sitting in your passenger seat or the backseat can be a stronger proof that you weren’t going to drive while intoxicated. The use of a seat belt in the driver’s seat will damage any argument that you didn’t intend to drive. Headlights have the same effect, and you will end up with a dead battery in the morning if you turn off the engine. Parking somewhere safe, rather than simply pulling to the side of the road, will help your case as well. However, you shouldn’t operate your vehicle at all if you know you are too intoxicated to drive.

Sleeping It Off In Your Car Can Get You a DUI In Arizona

There are serious penalties for a DUI conviction in Arizona, even if you were sleeping it off when arrested. Anyone convicted of a DUI in Arizona must serve at least one day in jail but can serve far more for a high BAC or multiple DUI convictions. DUI fines in Arizona start in the thousands of dollars. Your driver’s license will be suspended or revoked, and you will have restrictions on your license upon its return.

Additionally, if convicted in Arizona, you will also be required to use an ignition interlock device, which requires you to blow to show your sobriety each time you start your vehicle, and comes with a monthly fee. You will need to complete drug and alcohol screening, as well as driving school, which each comes with additional fees. You will need to obtain SR-22, or high-risk, auto insurance coverage, which typically will at least double your current insurance rate. You will also be ordered to complete community service.

If your BAC is .15 or higher, your vehicle will be impounded for 30 days. The impound lot can charge up to $15 per day to hold your vehicle, as well as a $150 administrative fee to have your car returned.

Also, you can expect harsher sentencing at this BAC level, which is known as an Extreme DUI. For a BAC of .20 or higher, the charge is Super Extreme DUI. If you have a child under 15 with you or are driving with a suspended license or ignition interlock device at the time of arrest, or this is your 3rd DUI in 7 years, you will be charged with aggravated DUI. This is a felony charge, which carries prison time and heavier penalties across the board. All other DUI charges are misdemeanors, which still have serious permanent consequences, but are not as severe as felony convictions.

What Is The Legal Limit In Arizona For Alcohol Or Drugs?

In many states, the legal limit for alcohol is a clear-cut BAC of .08. You will automatically be presumed to be drunk in Arizona if you report a BAC of that level or higher. However, you can also receive a DUI in Arizona if you are “impaired to the slightest degree.” If the officer perceives you to be intoxicated, and you have a BAC between .04 and .079, you can be arrested for DUI in Arizona. A driver in Arizona under the age of 21 can be arrested for DUI for any amount of alcohol in their system.

Previously, anyone who didn’t have a medical marijuana card could be arrested for DUI in Arizona for any amount of THC in their system. However, THC remains in the system for days, and even weeks, after using marijuana. Arizona DUI laws regarding marijuana had to change to reflect that recreational marijuana use is now legal for anyone in the state 21 years of age and older. Now a driver over 21 needs to test positive for THC and show signs of driving impairment to be arrested for DUI, regardless of whether the driver has a medical marijuana card.

Contact An Experienced Arizona DUI Lawyer

Overall, it is far safer to find a ride home or to a friend’s house than to sleep in your car after drinking. If you do find yourself with no other options and are arrested for DUI while sleeping it off, you may have strong defenses available for your DUI defense. To reduce the numerous negative consequences you will face after a DUI arrest and conviction, you should hire a skilled Phoenix DUI defense attorney.

Also, keep in mind, you will have a better chance of having your charges reduced, or even dismissed, with an experienced attorney representing you. Hiring an experienced Arizona DUI Lawyer may end up saving you thousands of dollars, as well as help you mitigate other non-monetary punishments stemming from a DUI conviction. If the cost of a private defense attorney is your barrier, our Mesa DUI attorneys offer payment plan options that will work with your budget. Plus, your initial case evaluation is 100% free of charge. Thus, you can decide if one of our AZ Criminal Defense Attorneys is the right fit for your risk-free.

Don’t wait for your next court appearance to begin planning your defense strategy- get started today by calling (480) 833-8000 and scheduling your free consultation.

Published On: March 1st, 2021Categories: DUI