How Can I Be Charged With a DUI If My Car’s Not Moving?

If you do feel that you drank too much alcohol to drive, then you may consider sleeping it off in your car. This would seem like the right thing to do, but that’s not always the case! After all, you get to rest, and the streets have one fewer intoxicated driver.

However, some specific situations in Ohio exist where the police can still charge you with a DUI (also known as OVI).

One of the main reasons the police could charge you with a DUI is that your car’s engine is running. This can be if you’re sleeping or sometimes sitting in your vehicle. Even if your car’s running to avoid the cold, having the engine running could get you a DUI.

Another possible route to a DUI is driving home and realizing you were uncomfortable continuing because you felt too inebriated. So, you pull over, get off the road, and fall asleep with the engine running. In this case, a DUI charge is even more likely, as you drove the car somewhere while drunk and were found in the driver’s seat. In Ohio, the traffic law considers the vehicle’s operation and being under the influence for you to be charged with DUI.

Some officers also may charge you with a “physical control” charge instead of an OVI or DUI. However, this doesn’t help as it’s still a severe charge and could lead to a suspended license, an impounded vehicle, and more. The only proper way to possibly avoid a DUI is to sleep in the back seat of your car without the engine running.

If you are up against this situation, it’s a severe legal matter made worse because it’s vague, and many officers don’t know how to enforce these laws. However, by consulting with a professional Cincinnati DUI lawyer, you can be sure your rights are protected and have the best chance of possibly having the charges dropped.

How Do the Ohio Statutes Define “Operation” Of A Vehicle?

This is crucial if you are charged with DUI while sleeping or sitting in your car.

We all know that drunk driving is dangerous, and a DUI is a severe charge in Ohio. Accordingly, you can be charged with this serious offense if you “operate” a vehicle while drunk or under the influence of drugs.

However, for the state prosecutor to obtain a conviction for a DUI (or OVI), they must usually prove three required elements of your offense, these are:

  • You, as the driver, were in a “vehicle.”
  • You were legally intoxicated.
  • You were the driver that was “operating” the vehicle.

These elements may appear straightforward; however, there are many cases where legal disputes arise over whether any offense occurred.

For example, in the Ohio statutes, the term ‘vehicle’ is extremely broad in its definition and does not just include cars. You would assume that cars, trucks, vans, and other similar automobiles are covered, and you would be correct. But note that these statutes also cover many other motorized vehicle statutes.

You must know that If you are “impaired,” operating a bicycle, ATV, golf cart, etc., is not a safe alternative to driving a car, and you still could obtain a DUI charge.

Isn’t Movement Of My Vehicle Needed To Be Charged With a DUI?

This is a very tricky area of Ohio’s DUI (OVI) statutes, and your Cincinnati DUI lawyer’s advice and guidance will prove invaluable.

Strictly adhering to the law, you must be operating your vehicle to be charged with an OVI/DUI. In other words, while “operating” your car, you must be causing actual movement.

So, this may seem contradictory, that if you’re drunk and sleeping or sitting in your car, you shouldn’t be charged with a DUI!

However, most police officers aren’t lawyers, and this distinction is not always clear to them before they charge you with a DUI.

Also, even if the officer realizes the distinction, they still can charge you with a seemingly lesser offense called “Physical Control of a Vehicle Under the Influence.”

This may seem like a good thing at the time, but it’s not. Although “physical control while under the influence” may be considered a less harsh offense, it is still a severe crime in Ohio. It can potentially lead to suspension of your license and even jail time.

This clarification exemplifies the need to consult with your local Cincinnati DUI as soon as you are charged. Your lawyer will analyze your case and ensure that your rights are protected under the details of the law.

Read More: Understanding marijuana legality in Ohio

What Are Some DUI Defenses for Sleeping in My Car in Ohio?

You’re trying to do the right thing and not drive drunk, but you should take a few extra steps to make sure you hopefully don’t get charged with a DUI or arrested. If you’re going to stop your car while drunk, ensure you make it clear that you’re sleeping and not simply taking a driving break.

Get out of the driver’s seat and move to the passenger’s side or the back seat of your vehicle. In addition, don’t have your car keys on you. You can place them in the glove box or the trunk to better convince the police that you had no intention of driving.

The courts (and possibly the arresting officer) will have to determine whether you were driving. Accordingly, they usually rely on some specific factors, such as:

  • The location of your vehicle (are you off on the side of the road).
  • Where you were sitting or sleeping in your car.
  • Where did they find the keys to your car (hopefully not in the ignition)?
  • Can your vehicle be operated, and could it have been driven?

All the minute details of this type of case matter, and have been charged with a DUI, your experienced DUI law team will use them to mount the best possible defense.

I’ve Been Charged With a DUI While Sleeping in My Car; What Should I do?

If you find yourself in this precarious legal situation, you must note that your first appearance in court will be in 5 days or less. So, don’t waste the precious time needed to protect your rights.

Your experienced, knowledgeable, and aggressive Cincinnati DUI lawyer knows that protecting your rights and your freedom is their most important job, and they will work tirelessly and promptly on your behalf. Remember that being convicted of even your first DUI or OVI  offense could devastate your life and disrupt your entire family.

Consult immediately with an experienced, knowledgeable Cincinnati criminal defense DUI lawyer. Your lawyer knows “time is of the essence” and will fight to  “get ahead” of the prosecutors’ case and obtain the best possible outcome for you, your family, and your future.