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Sleeping It Off: What You Should Know About Non-Driving DUI

white car parked at night

DUI stands for driving under the influence. Did you know, though, that you can be charged with a DUI while not driving? It seems counterintuitive, but it is possible. Let’s discuss what may warrant a non-driving DUI, and what you can do to prevent this unexpected charge.

Virginia DUI Law

Virginia law states that it is unlawful for any person to drive or operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A driver is defined as someone who is in physical control of a motor vehicle. For example, if a driver is sitting in their parked car with the key in the ignition, they are technically in control and could get a DUI.

In Virginia, you can be arrested for DUI both on public and private property. However, if you are facing non-driving DUI charges after being on private property, it is important to clarify this with your attorney.

How Police Prove Non-Driving DUI

When you choose to sleep in your car rather than drive home after drinking, you are making the responsible choice. Unfortunately, law enforcement may still attempt to charge you with a DUI if you are caught resting in your vehicle.

Police will look for factors that prove you:

  • Recently drove your car before stopping
  • Have physical control of the car and have the ability to drive
  • Have the intent to drive while still intoxicated

The main things police look for when questioning someone sleeping in their car is:

  • The location of the keys: as previously mentioned, keys in the ignition are enough to show the driver has control of the vehicle. If you plan on sleeping in your car, ensure your keys are far away from you. The glove box, backseat, and trunk are all good spots to store your keys.
  • Where the driver is sleeping: if police find you sleeping in the driver’s seat of the car, they may infer that you recently drove. Instead, make sure you’re laying down in the backseat before dozing off.
  • The warmth of the car: after your car has been running, certain areas will begin to radiate heat. This includes the engine, hood, and tires. Officers may feel these areas to see if they are hot, indicating that the car was recently running/driven.

Experienced DUI Law Defense Attorneys

At Tillotson & Martin, LLC, our team knows the ins and outs of DUI law. If you are facing complicated non-driving DUI charges, we can help. You made the right choice deciding to sleep it off and not endanger yourself or others; you shouldn’t be punished for doing so.