Can I Be Charged with a DUI for Being Asleep in the Car While Intoxicated?

By Jonathan Blecher on August 20, 2015

After a night out drinking on the town, driving home would not only be reckless but it could result in an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI). Instead, you may think it wise to sleep it off in your vehicle until it is safe to drive.

If you make that choice, you very likely may wake up to the sound of a police officer knocking on your window. Before you know it, you are being put in cuffs for a DUI, despite not even driving your vehicle.

What Is Actual Physical Control?

In Florida, as well as many other states, you don’t need to be
driving to get arrested for a DUI. You don’t even have to be conscious.
Instead, you must simply have “actual physical control” of the vehicle. But what does that even mean?

In order to have “actual physical control” of your car, you need to:

  • Have access to and/or or possession of the keys
  • Be in the driver’s seat, passenger seat, or passenger compartment
    – inside the car, really
  • Be within a vehicle that could readily be operated

You will note that nothing in that list actually says you have to be awake. More or less, you simply need to be able to start operating the vehicle.

The law enforcement mindset when arresting sleeping yet intoxicated people found within their vehicles is that they could have woken up and started driving at any time. They could have also just driven the car there moments ago and drifted off; just because no one was hurt doesn’t mean that you weren’t committing a DUI.

The best advice is to have a designated driver, call a taxi, Uber, Lyft or a friend to pick you up if you think you may not be fit to drive.

Fighting Your Case

As a Miami DUI attorney with more than 30 years of experience, I have defended cases like this before and can carefully examine your case to see if there are errors in the police officer’s case against you.

If you have been arrested for a DUI in the situation of you sleeping in an unmoving vehicle, I encourage you to contact me as soon as possible. I have personally handled more than 3,000 DUI cases, many of which involve actual physical control of a vehicle and defendants found sleeping in their vehicles, so call 305-321-3237 to get your free consultation with a highly reputable and experienced Miami DUI lawyer.

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