Can You Get a DWI for Sleeping in Your Car in Minnesota?

By this point, everyone has been thoroughly ingrained that driving while under the influence is bad and dangerous to everyone. However, many have been to the point where they had a little too much to drink and have a debate about driving home. Instead of putting everyone on the road in potential danger, you decide it is better to just sleep it off in your car after visiting one of St. Paul’s many lovely drinking establishments. Just as you tuck in, you see those flashing lights and get that dreaded knock on your window. However, you were just going to sleep, can you still be arrested for a DWI?

The quick answer is yes, but there are a lot of circumstances that affect it. Even if you had no notion of driving while drunk, the officer doesn’t know that. If your keys were in the ignition, they could still believe that you were planning to drive.

When you are sitting in your vehicle drunk, there are a few factors that will affect whether or not you will be arrested:

  • Location of the Vehicle – Did you drive a little then pull over or was the engine still cold in the parking lot?
  • Location of the Keys – Were the keys in the ignition? Was the car on? Were the keys outside the car?
  • Where Were You in the Car? – Sleeping it off in the front seat? Passenger seat? Back seat?
  • Operability of the Vehicle – Can you actually drive the vehicle?

Even if you were snoozing in the backseat in a parking lot with the car keys safely in the hands of a bartender, you might still be arrested for a DWI depending on the discretion of the officer. However, often if you have surrendered your keys and showed no signs that you were driving or even intended to drive, an officer might just let you sleep the night away. The issue is that if you wake up not quite as drunk, but still somewhat buzzed, you may still drive the vehicle. It is this possibility that often leads to precautionary arrests for DWI when someone is intending on sleeping n their car.

As for what the law says, it states that you can be arrested for a DWI if the officer believed you still had “physical control” over the vehicle. This can mean that the keys were still in the car somewhere and it was still capable of being operated. This is often why it is recommended to get a cab or an Uber home instead of just sleeping it off. This is particularly true if you already have prior DWI’s on your record as this can serve up as even further cause to the officer that you intended to drive while under the influence.

When to Contact a Lawyer?

If you have been arrested for a DWI, it is never too soon to contact your attorney for representation. If you were sleeping one-off and took numerous steps to assure that you wouldn’t drive in an effort to not be arrested, a good lawyer can help make sure they don’t have much of a case against you. However, even if you didn’t know you could be arrested for sleeping in your car, an attorney can still help make sure you get the minimum punishment possible.

If you were arrested for a DWI whether you were sleeping one-off or actually driving, contact us today. The Law Office of Rogosheske, Rogosheske & Atkins can help you get the best possible results for your case, so give us a call at our St. Paul Office.

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