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DUI for Sleeping "it off" in the Car

DUI for Sleeping it off in the Car.jpgBelieve it or not, you can get a DUI for sleeping "it off" in the car. According to Michigan law, a driver could be arrested for a DUI if he/she is found sleeping inside his/her vehicle while intoxicated. A key consideration as to whether an arrest will be made depends on a few factors. Read on to learn more.

Michigan Case Law Regarding Sleeping in Car While Intoxicated

Michigan case law previously stated that a driver could not be arrested and charged with a DUI for sleeping in his/her car while intoxicated. See People v Pomeroy, 419 Mich 441, 444, 355 NW2d 98 (1984). According to this case, if the car was not moving and the driver was not in a position of operating the motor vehicle, and there was no previous evidence to indicate that the driver had previously driven the vehicle, he/she could not be convicted of drunk driving.

In People v Wood, 450 Mich 399, 404-406, 538 NW2d 351 (1995), the court overturned its previous holding and redefined the operation of a motor vehicle while driving under the influence. In this case, the court held that a person operates a motor vehicle when he/she puts the vehicle in motion or is in a position that poses a significant risk of causing a collision or damage to property. Such operation must continue until the vehicle is returned to a position where it no longer poses a threat.

As a result of Wood, if a driver, while sleeping it off in his/her car, is found to be in a position that poses a significant risk of causing a collision or damage to property, he/she could be potentially charged and convicted of a DUI.

After consuming four beers during happy hour, Jim decided to "sleep off" his alcohol buzz in the car before heading home. It was cold out so Jim started the engine and turned on the heater. Thirty minutes later, a police officer woke Jim up and questioned whether he had been drinking. The officer smelled alcohol on Jim's breath and requested to perform field sobriety tests which Jim failed. Can Jim be charged with a DUI?

Because Jim's vehicle was running, he potentially posed a risk of causing a collision or damage to property while "sleeping it off" in the car. The prosecution could gather enough evidence in this situation to obtain a drunk driving conviction.

It is best to take a cab, Uber, or Lyft home if you are too drunk to drive. Or, have a designated, non-drinking driver take you home. If you have been charged with a DUI, contact my law office for representation. I provide legal advice and representation to Washtenaw County residents who have been charged with drunk driving. I can help try to get the charge asserted against you reduced or completely dismissed.

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